I’m thankful to be speaking at a virtual retreat at Trinity Church, Seattle, at the end of May. The last five days, I’ve worked hard on another full edit of The Name so the guys at the retreat could have the best possible version. As I worked through the document, line by line, page by page, I realized afresh the impact Trinity (then Green Lake Presbyterian Church, GLPC) had on Jenny and my formation in ministry. It is woven in the stories throughout the book.
Jenny’s breakthrough to the gospel at a Sunday Evening prayer meeting on Easter Sunday, 2000, happened in and through the community of grace at GLPC. I tell that story in Chapter Three. I share about my subsequent breakthrough when I dared to be the broken man I am in Chapter Seven. The GLPC community had shown me it was safe to do that. Then there is the story of my friendship with Nathan Partain, which, again, began at GLPC and concludes the chapter on work. The chapter and tool on place has a number of stories tied to GLPC. From how God called us from Seattle to Indy, how God used Rev. Michael Kelly in my life, how we learned to be fully present where God planted us from saying goodbye to our Seattle friends and congregation.
My understanding of the grace of Jesus, conviction that Christian leadership means being the “chief repenter,” heart for urban ministry, and, most importantly, witnessing how the church is a community of broken people who dare to be honest about their mess because they know how much they are loved and accepted by God was a kind of launch pad for my pastoral ministry.
In light of how my story is so interwoven with GLPC I can only marvel at God’s promise that GLPC is the first church, outside of the two churches I’ve served as lead pastor of, where I get to present some of the material. I wonder if I should be surprised. After all, I believe in the sovereign LORD, whose providence directs all things for his glory.
So today I’m thankful for a community of grace that had a big impact in shaping me and my ministry, thankful that I can give back back in some small way, and thankful that I get to hang with these cool folks.