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Newsletter - February 2023

Newsletter – February, 2023

Greetings from the desk of the Pastor! It has been a flurry of announcements and big news – and so I’ll try to cover the basics so we are all on the same page.

It was announced in January that on March 19th I will be starting as a Campus pastor at Aldersgate Church (which has campuses in Midland and Saginaw). At the same time, it was announced that the incredible Pastor JD Landis has been appointed to take over for the first three months to ensure a smooth transition.

The first question I always get is “why the weird date for the transition”? In the United Methodist Church, appointments are usually announced in January, and then moves are made in June. This is what I had hoped for and worked towards. Trouble is that OUTSIDE of the UMC, nobody else uses that same timeline. The pastor that I am replacing at Aldersgate is a former missionary who is retiring, possibly to do some more mission work and certainly to do some traveling. They had hoped I could start in January when he left. I told them January was too soon, and I asked them to push my start date back as far as they could. They graciously agreed to give me five extra weeks – pushing the date into March. They are currently treading water, utilizing other staff to fill the pulpit until I arrive in March. The second question is perhaps the bigger one: Why is Pastor JJ leaving at all? I stumbled across a handy metaphor that I thought would help make things clear. You see, when it became clear that our church was not going to be able to successfully pursue disaffiliation I resigned from the denomination. I have no feud with this church. None, whatsoever. I love you all so very much, and I’m not even upset with those who believe differently than I do. Flushing United Methodist Church remains a lovely church full of amazing people. We have done incredible ministry in the past five years. My family has doubled in size since we moved here. We have made life-long friendships. We have tried new things, succeeded at some and failed at others. We made music, we buried friends, we laughed together. We wept and held one another. No, I have no issue with this beautiful place full of people I love.

And I want to encourage you. If you are not sure what the future holds – please, wait and see. Work together to do the good work of the people of God in this place. Don’t leave on a “maybe.” There is still good ministry to be done in this place, by gospel believing Christians who love Jesus.

It’s a bit like this – suppose the church is a hospital for broken people. The people are patients, and the pastors are doctors. Then one day a new company purchases the hospital, and there are a few administrative changes. But some doctors have some issues with some of the new colleagues and the new policies that are being put in place (like disaffiliation fees and accountability procedures) – so the doctor transfers to another hospital. But then, of course, the patients come to the doctor and say, “what did we do wrong?” The answer, of course, is nothing! None of the patients in the hospital (or the church) did anything wrong. The hospital is going to continue to provide good care for its people – that wasn’t the concern. It’s just that the doctor, it’s just that I, needed to be in an organization where the administration had policies and procedures I agree with.

As we prepare for transition, there is a bittersweet mixture of fear and excitement, anticipation and hesitation. I know that Pastor JD Landis will do an incredible job shepherding this amazing church – you will be in good hands. But of course, that does not mean I will not miss you. Sara and I, and our crew of rowdy toddlers will miss this church more than we can express. I know that you will love and bless the next pastor and his family as you have loved and blessed my own. As we move forward towards Becoming United, I look forward to laying the groundwork of healing and rebuilding that Pastor JD will build on. But until then, I’ll see you on Sunday. Pastor JJ


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