I can’t believe it has been 7 years. Grace is a marvelous church and I felt the Spirit at work when I got the opportunity to come here 7 years ago. Several years prior to my arrival, the previous pastor, Fred, asked me to be the speaker for the annual church retreat at Sumatanga … and I have been in love with Grace UMC ever since. I began to keep track of Grace and longed to perhaps serve here one day. When it actually transpired, I just couldn’t believe it. My family was so very excited about coming to such a wonderful church.
In the same way, becoming senior pastor of Saint Mark UMC in Birmingham is an extraordinary opportunity. Like Grace, Saint Mark is a church that I have had spiritual nudges about serving someday … though I was surprised that “someday” is today.
I’ve known people at Saint Mark for years because of my involvement in Music and Arts Week at Sumatanga. In addition, Sandy and I have spent most of our years in Birmingham. We will be living 10 minutes from my brother and 30 minutes from my dad and another brother. We will be 2 hours closer to all our relatives, including Sandy’s parents in their later years. And though we have never relished the idea of moving our son during high school, this particular church is the one church he would be excited about going to. He already knows many of the youth from camp.
We love Grace very much. At any point in history I would hate to move from such a wonderful church. But now that I am processing this I realize what a good time this is for Grace to make a transition. We built our new building and settled into a new “normal” for a year. We have an excellent staff and fine leaders equipped and organized to lead us into the future. We are not planning on a capital campaign related to the new building for another year and a half, giving a new pastor time to get acclimated. This year is better than next year, and better than last year, for a move.
I could not be more excited about the pastor and family who is coming to Grace. I have known Bryan Sisson for many years. His father, Jerry Sisson, was a prominent pastor in our conference and served in Huntsville. Bryan’s sister lives here and her kids go to Westminster. Bryan is an excellent preacher and organizer, sound in his theology and loving as a pastor. He is about the same age I was when I came to Grace (thanks for coaching me like I know you will help him!). His wife and two young girls are very much looking forward to living in the parsonage and being part of this great church.
As my family prepares for the transition of moving to Birmingham, and Grace UMC prepares for the transition of receiving the Sissons in June, we can all know that God is good.
Check out Saint Mark UMC on the web.