Pastor's E-Letter

Pastor's E-Letter

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Showing items filed under “Annette Stiles Pendergrass”

Pastor's E-Letter 06/28/2019

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This last Tuesday evening, I spent the evening with 150 or so youth and adults during the Brevard Mission Week evening program time. There were silly games and then a wonderful time of worship through music led by our amazing Mike Mayes and some of our Sunday morning worship Band. Then there was a time of sharing in personal testimonies by four different youth pastors/directors including our own Joel Lusz and Michelle Garrett. Each of them shared something of their own faith journey and the ways they came to know and commit their lives to Jesus.
As I sat there, listening, I kept looking around at all these students, those from Suntree and those who came from Alabama and South Carolina to share in this mission experience. And my heart was filled with gratitude. I remembered how important those types of youth ministry experiences were for me and for my faith development. Being connected and rooted in a community that loved and encouraged me, learning to use my gifts and talents to serve and share the love of Jesus, having fun with kids my age, being mentored by caring and committed Christ following adults, and worshipping God together, all of that came together in my life to move me to give my heart and life to loving Jesus and seeking to follow his purposes for my life. All of that came together to shape the choices that I made, would make, and continue to make, to love God, love others and serve the world in the name of Jesus. I would not be who I am, or where I am, without the vital shaping and nurturing I received as a young person in my home church.
What moved me Tuesday was seeing that same gift being given, by this church, the church I get to be a part of, to this generation of students! What moved me was imagining all the great things they are already doing, the good choices that they are making right now, and the ones they will make in the future, because of experiences like BMW. What moved me was imagining the impact, the ways that God will be able to use this generation of young people to make this a better world. Sitting before me was the next generation of Christ followers who will go on to be doctors and engineers and teachers, and accountants, and plumbers and preachers and youth directors and moms and dads and citizens and who knows what else. But most important, they will become all those things and do all of that, with a heart for God and a love for Jesus and for his church and for the world Jesus died to save. And honestly, that gives me such hope for the future; for the future of the church, this community and the world.
It takes a lot of work to make something like BMW happen. It takes staff time, volunteer servant time, enormous amounts of planning, food, drinks, and resources. And we invest a lot of dollars in our student ministry to be sure. But if you ever wonder if all of that is worth it, then I invite you to come and hang out for a while in our student ministry. Get to know some of these amazing young people. Learn about what they are doing, what they hope to do with their lives. See what they are already doing to love others and be the hands and feet of Jesus in mission and ministry in the world. Do that and I assure you, you will see that the investment we are making in this ministry, in these students, is more than worth it’s weight in gold. I cannot imagine something more important to invest my dollars in. I’m so grateful that I get to have a small part in their faith journey. What a joy. What a privilege. What a blessing.
This Sunday in worship, you too will have the chance to see a glimpse of what goes on in our student ministry as we celebrate youth mission Sunday and get to hear some of their testimonies from their summer mission experiences. I encourage you, as you listen to our students share those experiences, to imagine where they will be, what a difference they will make in this world, because of what they are experiencing now, in this church. I also encourage you to take time after each service, to meet them and thank them for sharing and being a part of our student ministry. Do that, and I guarantee you will be blessed, because we are truly blessed to be a part of mentoring and shaping this next generation for the cause of Christ and the Kingdom.
On another note, I have also been overwhelmed with gratitude this week as I realized that this week, I’m celebrating my 4th anniversary since moving to Suntree to join you in ministry. As I remember those first weeks and months of transition, I am reminded of the wonderful ways that you welcomed me, with open hearts, minds and arms. What a gift that was for Scott and me. And now what a gift to be staying here, entering my 5th year of ministry with you and looking forward to all the exciting work that God is doing in and through us for the kingdom and this community as we continue to live into the goals outlined in our 4D Vision plan. God is so good! God has done such so much already and I’m so excited about what the next year (and years) will bring. Thank you for being such a warm, loving, welcoming faith community. Thanks for all the ways you serve Christ and one another. Thanks for all the ways you give to make ministry happen in this place and beyond.
In the words of Dag Hammarskjold, “For all that has been, Thanks! For all that will be, Yes!
Grace and Peace,

Pastor's E-Letter 06/14/19

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I love road trips. Perhaps it’s because I love vacation and road trips usually mean vacation. When our children were young, we took a vacation every summer without fail and those vacations usually involved some type of road trip. After weeks of running around at work to get everything squared away so that I could leave, after days of packing everything imaginable for a family of 5 for whatever adventure we were heading out for, I loved the feeling of hopping in the car and driving away. We were leaving behind all the pressures of our everyday routine for something new; a new place, a new pace, new scenery, and what would become new memories.

Scott always drove the first leg, (and sometimes all the legs) of the journey. He likes to drive more than ride. And within 30 minutes of hitting the road, I would always fall asleep! That is what female pastors who are wives and mothers of 3 young boys do when they sit still. They fall asleep! It was wonderful.

The only problem was that I was always the co-pilot. Keep in mind, this was before the days of GSP, Garmin, Google Maps, etc. Scott has a pretty good sense of direction, but he can easily get turned around and I liked pouring over the maps, especially when we were in a new place. So, usually we were a good team. Except when I wasn’t awake!

One time, we left home and as usual, I feel asleep. I wasn’t worried, as we weren’t going someplace totally new and Scott seemed to be clear on the route we were taking. While I was sleeping, he stopped for gas. I was vaguely aware that we had stopped but ignored it and went back to sleep.

I woke up about an hour later and as I looked outside the window, I saw a water tower with the name “Valdosta” on it. I said, “Scott, why are we near Valdosta?” He was like, “What do you mean?” I replied, “It says Valdosta on the water tower. Why would we be near Valdosta? Valdosta is no where near where we are headed!”

Sure enough, we were on the outskirts of Valdosta Ga. We were supposed to be headed to the Smokey Mountains from Jacksonville. Valdosta was not on our itinerary. Neither was the hotel outside Atlanta that we ended up staying in because we had mistakenly gone so far off course in the wrong direction. He had gone in the wrong direction when he left the gas station and he had no Siri blasting in his ear, “make a U- turn!”

But isn’t that just like life? You travel the highway of life with a general sense of where you are planning to go and how you are going to get there. Then one day you wake up and discover you have somehow veered off course. Or you hit a roadblock or a dead end and must take a detour. The journey of life is never a simple matter of going from point “a” to point “b”. It is a constant series of unexpected events and curve balls that necessitate constant course corrections. We are often called to the business of “recalculating”; reimagining our hopes and dreams and goals in life.

The good news is that we don’t have to make those course corrections alone. God is always with us. God works in all kinds of ways to help us in finding our way through the detours, the dead ends, and the traffic jams of our lives.

This summer in worship, we be exploring the lessons we can learn from some Old Testament characters about how to allow God to function as our “spiritual GPS” when we encounter the unexpected and unplanned in life. In our “Recalculating” message series, we will look at Elijah, Ruth and Naomi, Gideon, Rahab, Samuel and Hannah to explore the ways that God led them in responding to unexpected events or took them in unexpected directions. Along the way, we might just discover that sometimes, the greatest adventures in our lives occur when we embrace moving off our maps and simply trust our journey to our God who is with us in all the twists and turns of life.

This Sunday we begin with one of the stories of Elijah which is found in I Kings 19. You might want to read both I Kings 18 and 19 to get a fuller picture of where Elijah is in his journey in chapter 19. As we encounter Elijah, we will explore the importance of taking advantage of a “Rest Area” along the way.

I look forward to seeing you in worship this week and diving into this message series. I also hope that during these longer days of summer, you might take advantage of the opportunities to connect or re-connect with your neighbors, friends and family. Summer is a great time to recharge your batteries and your relationships with one another. And maybe invite a friend to worship, or Sunday School, or a neighbor child to VBS or a youth to BMW. Remember, the number one reason folks visit a church, at any time of year, is because someone invited them!

Grace and Peace,