But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him;
for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7 (NRSV)
Can you describe a perfect pastor? Let’s try. The perfect pastor is someone who speaks with conviction but doesn’t step on any toes. The perfect pastor digs deep into the scriptures when preaching, but also makes sure the service stays under an hour, no matter what. They bring biblical insights to current events but not in a way that challenges anyone to reflect on their behavior or actually do anything differently. The perfect pastor is able to relate to children, youth, and young families while also completely understanding and connecting with the lives and experiences of elderly members of the congregation…
Let’s not forget our outward expectations: the perfect pastor is well groomed and dressed, but not too flashy. They drive a humble car, but also not one you’d be embarrassed to have parked outside your house during a visit. Preferably, they have a family, but a perfect one who never distracts them from being available at all times…
… then, less playfully, we get into expectations around age, race, gender, and other categories.
When I close my eyes and imagine what a pastor looks like, I see someone who looks a lot like me, but twenty years or so older and fully grey of hair and beard. It’s strange that this is what I see, however, because the most meaningful pastors in my life have looked nothing like that. I was first invited into ministry, mentored, appointed, and superintended by faithful women who made me the pastor I am today. I was taught to preach, teach, and lead most effectively by Black pastors and professors. When I think of the people, sermons, lessons, and interactions that have most impacted my life and faith, the only common characteristic is the presence of the Holy Spirit. No other outward similarities.
In the next week or two, members of the church council will meet with the person who is to be the next pastor of Flemington UMC. They might look, sound, and think a lot like me. Or they might completely challenge every category and preconception you hold, even unconsciously, about what a pastor looks like, let alone the perfect pastor. What is true is that the Bishop and the cabinet have a list of all the ordained, commissioned, and licensed pastors in the conference before them as they prayerfully consider what we as a church have shared about where God is leading us.
Please continue to pray for the church, both this congregation and our larger connection. It’s been a season of great challenges, yet here we are: ready for a strong and faithful future.
Grace and Peace,
Return to Worship in Building, Sunday, March 7
You have been incredibly flexible and faithful as we have adjusted our worship to best prevent the spread of illness during this pandemic. Hopeful trends in case counts locally and nationwide provide encouraging signs it is time to once again convene in person. We will do so with familiar precautions in place: masks, ventilation, assigned seating, and no coffee hour for now. In the months ahead, we may be able to relax some or all of these. What is also needed are volunteers to greet, usher, and help lead worship as we put together a schedule for these once again.
Barring any serious setback in current trends, this should be a reopening for good. With this in mind, however, we also understand many will wish to continue worshipping at home until vaccinated or other concerns are satisfied. We will continue, therefore, to livestream our services indefinitely to better invite all to participate in Sunday Morning Worship.
Continuing Coffee Hour Over Zoom
Laura Newton will host a weekly time of conversation and connection at 11:30 am after our worship service each week. Login available at 11:15am or conclusion of worship, whichever is later.
Here is a link to that time –
If you have questions or need help, you can ask Pastor Ben or Laura. Don’t be shy, you are missed and a part of this church family, too!
New Upper Rooms are Available in the Church Office
The new Upper Room Daily Devotionals are also available now. If you’d like to pick yours up, Gretchen is in the church office from 9am-noon Tuesday – Friday each week. Please call ahead so she can set whatever you are picking up out for you.
You will find every newsletter, worship service, devotional, and additional material posted to our Facebook page:
Even if you don’t use Facebook, you can access everything we have there. If you do have a Facebook account, “like” to follow our page and be notified when new things are posted or when videos are about to go live so you don’t miss anything.
Coffee Hour is a time of sharing after Sunday morning worship hosted by Laura Newton at approximately 11:30am. All are welcome!
If you have any difficulties accessing any of those links, please reply to this message or call the church office at (908)782-1070 and we will get you connected right away.
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