July 1st marked by one-year mark on the staff at Hampton Presbyterian Church.
Here’s are some of the notable events that happened in my first year @ Hampton
- First weekend lock-in with Jr and Sr High, followed by preaching at all three services that Sunday
- Sr High Mission Trip to Newport, TN
- Kidnappings for both incoming 6th graders and 9th graders
- First Youth Groups!
- Awesome service project at the Union Project
- Wet and muddy Jr. High retreat
September and October were incredible months… then November began:
- Mid-November: Twyla, our interim associate pastor, accepts a call and has her last Sunday @ HPC
- End of November: I leave for a an extended weekend at the National Youth Workers Convention in Charlotte, NC
- Beginning of December: I come back from that event full of ideas and energized. That Tuesday morning Pastor Doug informs me that he has accepted another call and will be leaving sometime after the first of the year
- That evening I meet with the CPM of Pittsburgh Presbytery to be approved for ordination
- That Thursday I appear before the Presbytery for my final oral trials for ordination
- That Thursday evening Pastor Doug announces to the Session that he is leaving
- That Friday I leave with a group of high school students for our winter retreat @ Camp Crestfield.
- That Saturday evening I find out that Renee is indeed pregnant and I will be becoming a father
That week was possibly the craziest week of my life…
- Shortly after Christmas I preach my sermon, “God’s Horrible Timing” in which I address the many issues facing the church with the departure of Pastor Doug. Perhaps a more significant moment for me because it was the first time that I felt I had to step into the role of being a leader for the whole congregation.
- Mid-January: Clearview Construction Services, the general contractor for the addition at church informs us that they’re pulling out of the project, leaving the church on their own to finish it.
- Beginning of February: Pastor Doug’s last Sunday and my tenure as the lone pastor begins
- Beginning of March: Transitional Pastor Steve Lytch arrives – there is much rejoicing from Brian!
- An awesome 30 Hour Famine complete with the food drive to end all food drives
Most of spring has been spent dealing with transitional and finance issues – but I will say that I’ve learned more in my first year of ministry than I ever expected to – and now have dealt with things I never expected that I would have to do deal with.
All in all, it’s been a year full of blessings (including some unexpected ones) and I feel very blessed to have been called to serve and be a part of Hampton Presbyterian.
So this blog, minus my two rants the evening I discovered the Syracuse didn’t get into the NCAA Tournament, has basically been unused. Therefore, I feel compelled to write an update.
First, some of my posting has been focused on www.presbymergent.org. This is a new site that I am part of the editorial team for. So if you want to see a little of what I’ve been bantering about you can go check that out
Second, things at church have started to ease up and I feel like I’m back in control of my life again. Being the only pastor at a church with attendance of 400 people per week is not an easy task and one that I am extremely glad is over. It’s given me a chance to re-focus my efforts on turningpoint and the youth ministry, and that’s been nice.
Third, baby is progressing along well. We should find out the gender tomorrow and we’re over halfway through the pregnancy (well, Renee is anyway) and that’s very exciting. Right now, the general non-scientific consensus is that we’re having a girl – but again, that’s a completely non-scientific consensus. We’ll know tomorrow (hopefully) and let the world know on wallyandnay.net
Fourth, it’s my favorite time of year – NCAA Tournament time and the end of the NHL Regular Season. While I did pathetically poor early on, I did manage to pick 3 our of the 4 Final Four Teams (Georgetown, Florida and Ohio State). My Sabres are making a nice run toward the playoffs, with a few less than stellar games thrown in. We’ve always done well when playing from the bottom of the pile as a lower seed, now we’ll find out how we do playing from the top seed.
Finally, my reading of Karl Barth has continued. II.1 is as I expected, quite dense, but also quite enjoyable. It’s definitely helping to clear out some cobwebs.
Watch for the baby announcement tomorrow!
Our high school youth group is headed for Mexico this summer for a week to work with the Hebron Foundation and their effort to provide proper medical care for those in Southern Mexico as well as lead a Vacation Bible School for children in Chiapas, Mexico.
As part of our fundraising effort we are hosting Mex Fest: A Buffet and Silent Auction on February 24th. Tickets are only $15! We’re also looking for items to be donated for our silent auction. We’re expecting 250-300 people that night so this is a great way to get your name out!
Me: So what would you preach about if you were preaching on joy?
Marissa: “Me and Amy”
Gotta love smart-aleck Sr. High girls….
So, ever since my time at Hampton began in one sense I’ve focused on the Sr. High portion of the ministry – not because I like them better, but simply because everything I’ve read says when you come into a new church you need to make a concerted effort to keep your Sr. High group together or else you’ll lose them completely. Your Jr. High group on the other hand, is more likely to keep together regarldess. The other reason is that the majority of events planned the the latter half of the summer we for Sr. High students. Finally, and this is the biggest reason, is that I spent a week on a mission trip with the Sr. High and didn’t have the chance to do that with the Jr. High.
Anyway, knowing that this wasn’t a good situation I scheduled for Jr. High retreat for early in the year (this past weekend). The downside was that this turned out to be a bad weekend for a whole bunch of our kids so not as many of them could go as I would have hoped, but we still had a nice sized group (11) go. We went to Camp Crestfield, which is my personal favorite place to go for retreats because (1) I worked there – so I know where things are (2) It tends to be very quiet so its a good change of pace for people. So, although it was a very tiring weekend for everyone involved, it was a great opportunity for me to get to know this amazing group of kids. The other really cool part of the weekend was to see how the Jr. High students have bonded with the Sr. High leaders.
All in all – a fabulous weekend.
When I started the adventure of youth ministry (over three years ago now) I started working with High School students, and loved it. I felt as though I could relate to them well in general that seemed to be where I felt the most comfortable doing ministry. When I start as a volunteer at Northmont I started with the high school youth group – and loved it once again. And when I went on staff at Norhtmont I again, started with High school youth group only…
And then came the December of 2004, when I took on the additional challenge of middle school youth group. I had worked with the middle school youth group a little bit when I was in Colorado, but not too much. So, to be the honest, the thought of leading a middle school youth group was more than terrifying…. after all, middle schoolers are a lot different than high schoolers. Well, to make a long story short I found out that I really liked middle schoolers – they weren’t the same as working with high school students and there were certainly thing I didn’t like, but I really enjoyed it.
Last night was my first middle school youth group here at Hampton and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. As things worked out with our summer calendar I spent the majority of my time with the high school students. But, once again I was reminded why I love working with middle schoolers…
- Middle school is a total transition, everything is changing – so there is an incredible openess to learning and asking questions that I’ve never found in any other age group
- The energy level is astounding
- They are not as overwhelmed as Senior High students with work, college, social commitments, etc. (Not saying I blame High School students for this – it’s part of life, it’s just one advantage to middle school)
- The stark seperation between guys and girls that you find in children’s ministry is beginning to fade
- Middle school students are beginning to learn how to relate to one another in independent ways
- Middle school students are brutally honest with everyone – each other and adults.
- Middle school students are smart – because they haven’t learned the “boxes” that as adults we have, so often they say things and I go, “hmm, I hadn’t thought of that”
- Their faith, as with everything else, is going through a major transition and it’s an exciting time to be involved in their lives.
I’m sure there are others, but that’s what comes to me off the top of my head.
Today summer officially ended for me, as it was our last youth event for the summer at church. The next major youth event is the kick-off of SWAT (our Jr. High Youth Group) on September 12th. What an incredible summer this has been, and it promises to be an incredible fall.