This morning I told my congregation in Winifrede that I have accepted a call to pastor another church. That church is a small PCA church in New Martinsville WV--Trinity Presbyterian Church.
As I explained from the pulpit, my reasons for leaving are very complex. The simplest way to explain it, and hopefully the most gracious, is to say that insurmountable differences make it necessary. Early in my ministry here, the Lord impressed upon me that my call would serve a much more narrow purpose than I had anticipated when I first came. That was to bring this church to a certain crossroads, at which it could make a choice of direction. I did not at the time know when that crossroads would come or exactly what it would look like, but my sense of calling was clear.
Earlier in 2011, that crossroads became obvious, and the choice of which direction to take was made. That made clear to me that my calling here was complete. When that choice was made, I began asking the Lord for another call. He answered that request, reassuring me once again that that my calling here was complete.
Whether or not one direction is better than another for this particular congregation is no longer for me to say. I only know that my denominational vows and the conviction of conscience that led me to take those vows prevent me from traveling the chosen path with them. I pray that the Lord blesses this congregation on its path. That it continues to enjoy and grow in the grace of the Gospel, that it grows in its desire to have the Word of God clearly preached from its pulpit. It has been a light in this community, preaching the Gospel clearly, for over 100 years, and I hope that it remains so for the next century.
I have no regrets about coming to Winifrede. My greatest joy has been to preach the Word to them every week. The congregation is filled with wonderful people who have poured out their love for us in ways that we could never repay. So many have been patient with me as their pastor, and they have really stepped in to show love, care and concern for my wife and family as she struggles with her illness. I have learned so much that hopefully will make me a better pastor to the next congregation. I only regret that I do not have the personal gifts that would best fit this congregation. I pray the Lord will bring them a pastor that is better fitted to meet their needs. I fully trust that my time here has served the purposes, both for me and for the church, that he desired it to serve. This is his church, and he loves it dearly, and he will continue to work in its midst to accomplish his will.
The Presbytery will take up the matter of my relationships to this church and the next church at the Presbytery meeting this Saturday. Since we will not be able to move until we have a home in New Martinsville, I have asked the Winifrede Church to continue to allow me to preach until we close on new home in New Martinsville. That will take between 45-60 days from the time that we have a contract on a home. We are very close to making an offer on a house. Until the day comes for us to move, if the church is willing, I will continue to faithfully preach the Word and minister to the needs of this congregation.
May God bless the leaders and members of Winifrede Presbyterian Church.