I am happy and excited to be officially starting as your pastor. It feels a bit odd to introduce myself to you, since most of you already know me (and have known me for years). So instead of telling you about myself, let me tell you about my thoughts for the future of Immanuel and our work together as partners in ministry.
As someone who has frequently worshipped and spent time with you over the past five years, I already have a good sense of the gifts of this congregation, and I want to continue them and build upon that foundation. These strengths include meaningful worship services (including good music and solid preaching), a long-standing tradition of Christian education for both children and adults, plentiful times of fellowship (weekly post-worship lunches as well as Ladies' Night and Mens' Night Out), and a strong voice for social justice, especially the full inclusion of LGBT people in Christ's church.
My hope and vision for the future of Immanuel is that although we can and should build upon these already-existing attributes, we will not be content to rest upon them as laurels. Instead, we need to find new ways to live out these traditions, to be creative in our thinking and innovative in our practices. For example, how might we be able to expand our idea of fellowship to include even more people? On what new issue(s) of social justice might we be called to speak, and what might that look like, remembering that often actions speak louder than actual words ever could? How can we make our building and grounds, worship services, and other activities truly welcoming to all people, not just the ones who usually participate?
I believe Immanuel is a unique and wonderful community, and that God can do exciting new things in our midst if we are open to them. I look forward to taking this journey together as we follow God's call.