Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, greetings to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me start by simply saying “thank you!” Serving in ministry with you here at Santa Fe Church is a real joy. The love and care and sense of community here at Santa Fe are inspiring. But mostly the grace you give to one another, and even more so to me, is one of the things that set this congregation apart.
I admit, I brag about you all the time. Often in gatherings of pastors as we discuss our respective churches, I often find myself a little embarrassed to hear the difficulties facing my colleagues. My experience is soooo much more positive.
I recently received a note from a visitor who attended Laurel’s Installation Service expressing to me how impressed they were with this congregation and the how the Spirit moves among us. Their time with us was a wonderful experience. Congrats to you all, and again, thank you. Thank you for making me look good, which is no small task.
As my tenth year serving here at Santa Fe comes to a close, it gives me pause to look back at all that we have seen and done and celebrated together. I think of things that have changed and things that have remained pretty much the same. What a journey it has been.
One of the major changes that jumps out at me is a matter of ecclesiology. When I arrived here in July 1999, the relationship between Santa Fe and Indian Nations Presbytery (INP) was not a strong one, one might even say it was strained. This was a concern for me, because as a youth and then an elder, and on into my calling to ordained ministry of Word and Sacrament, involvement in the work of presbytery and synod was always important to me.
I resolved to improve our position and participation in Indian Nations Presbytery. This, as it turned out, was not well received by the “powers that be” and the relationship soured. In time I was essentially banished to the position of Synod Commissioner.
However, in time, things began to change. Thanks to your support and prayers members of INP began to take another look at Santa Fe and began to realize that just maybe we might know what we are doing up here in Edmond. Santa Fe now finds itself in a leadership role as never before. This is all because of the grace and love and commitment of you, the members of this congregation.
Much of that grace has been extended to me, and my work in the synod and presbytery. Over the past three years, my involvement in the Synod of the Sun has grown. Last year I became the Moderator-Elect of the Synod and will be installed as Moderator to serve one year beginning in November of this year. I have served INP on the Transition Task Force, working to transform the structure and mission of the presbytery. It has been a great deal of work, and I thank you for allowing me the time and opportunity to serve in this role. And with a measure of joy, I can tell you that work is coming to a close, thank goodness!
I have not been alone in this work. Malcom Champlin has been serving on the INP Mission Strategy Group (essentially the presbytery council). Martin McNeese has returned to moderate and transform the work of the INP Committee on Ministry. And my wife Leigh, now joined by Laurel, have taken up the reigns of leadership with the INP Youth Committee. All of these people have been integral to the positive transformation of Indian Nations Presbytery. I cannot thank them enough for all their work, and again, for your support. I hope that others among you will be willing to step forward and continue to assume leadership roles in the presbytery.
As my first ten years at Santa Fe draw to a close, I look forward with excitement and anticipation to discover what God has in store for INP, for Santa Fe, and for me in the coming ten years here in Oklahoma. Again, thank you for all you have done to make it all possible.
May the peace and blessings of God, the joy of Jesus Christ, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit be with you all,
Your servant in Christ, Mitch