Monday, September 14, 2015
An Open Letter To Our Church Family
New Calvary Baptist Church,
During the summer of 2014, we first met. I'll always remember the first Sunday Lara, the kids, and I walked into your church building. I was not preaching that morning. We were just visiting. Immediately, you made us feel welcome. Several of you approached us and spoke with kindness. After the service, my family and I agreed we enjoyed it and wanted to return.
Then, a couple of weeks later, you invited me to preach one Sunday. You were without a pastor, and you were giving different people an opportunity to stand in your pulpit and proclaim God's word. I was thrilled beyond words that morning. It had been almost two years since I last preached, and I was so glad to get back to doing what I love.
After this, we started getting to know each other. I shared my life story with you. You listened with patience and grace as I told you about my ups and downs along the way. I gladly told you about my victories. Thankfully, you made it easy for me to also talk about my failures and lessons learned. The neat thing is, this drew us all closer together.
Then, it happened. In September of 2014, after several weeks of getting acquainted with each other, you voted me in as your pastor. I was kind of nervous as I waited for you to count those votes. When the deacons said that I was to be the next pastor of New Calvary Baptist Church, I was thrilled and humbled at the same time. It almost felt like a dream.
That was one year ago. It's been twelve months since I was called. Personally, I think time has flown by. They say that's what happens when you're having fun.
I just want to say this, New Calvary Baptist Church: Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for all that you have done.
You have been so good to Lara, Katie, Elizabeth, Rachel, Emerson, and me.
You have welcomed my parents, Wade and Diane Richardson, into your fellowship.
You have allowed me to use my gifts and served the Lord in a pastoral role.
You have blessed us with your encouragement, prayers, support, and friendship.
I love each of the churches I have pastored in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. They all are special congregations, and I thank God for all of them. And at the same time, I can honestly say I've never been happier in ministry than I am right now. These are good days. A sweet season of life that I cherish more than words can express.
I'm honored and thrilled to serve as your pastor. And I love getting to do life with you all. So thank you for allowing me to do what I do. You make it a pleasure, and I count myself mighty fortunate to be a part of this church.
Excitement fills my heart as we all look forward to the future. God is growing this church already in spirit and in number. There is a positive vibe in the air and a great sense of unity. I fully believe that if we keep loving God and loving people, bigger, better, and brighter days are ahead.
So that's what I wanted to say to you people: Thank you. My life has been radically turned around and lifted up because of God and you. Rest assured, I forever will be grateful.
I love you all, New Calvary Baptist Church.
P.S. Darlene - I know you had me sign a 99 year contract. And while I don't quite think I'll live to be 142 years old, I'm sure going to give it my best by sticking with you people as long as the good Lord will let me.