On Sunday evening, September 25, the church reached an astonishing consensus on two recommendations from the Council of Deacons.
Of the 173 voting members 98.8% (only 2 no votes!) said yes to the recommendation that we proceed with construction of a new sanctuary beginning next spring. Of those same 173 members 98.2% (3 no votes) said yes to the recommendation that we accept the gift of the property two doors west on 8th Street.
I stand in awe of the grace of God in these two votes. Not just because I believe the recommendations were wise, but because the consensus was so united and amicable. The spirit of the meeting was hopeful and even cheerful. It was as though the great season of worship we enjoyed earlier spilled over into the business of the Lord. God answered our prayers as we went forward on our knees.
Now it’s later Sunday night as I write this. It’s not usually a good time to ask me about the future—of anything. My windshield gets plastered by fatigue along about now. Besides, I have the sniffles. But I can say that my heart beats for Bethlehem. I am into my ninth year. I fully expect to welcome the 21st century as the pastor of Bethlehem. As late as it is, and as tired as I get on Sundays, the future looks great to me. Great for the next 12 years. And especially great for the next 12,000 years. I want to spend it with you—and Jesus.
Thanks to Bruce Case and Scott Campbell for their excellent, late-night composition of the Deacon recommendations that were mailed to the people. Their articulation of intent and rationale were decisive for many people. I thank the Deacons and their Committee of Five for the extra hours that it took to pray this through. Brothers, your labor has not been in vain.
I want to thank the office staff (Carol, Connie, Andrea, Mary and Dan) for the extra work that major printings and mailings like this involve. And thanks to Dennis Smith, the Chairman of our church, for his open and fair and thoughtful leadership of our business meeting.
As Rollin Erickson said, there are many ways the Lord can shut the door on this future if he pleases. But for now the door is wide open, and the church has heard a call to move through it. We have been long in the listening. Now may we put our hands to the plow and not look back! Resolve to find your gift for the ministry and use it with all your might. And take heart in this: his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
Yoked happily with you,