From Pastor Dave Dockweiler
“Well done good and faithful servant, enter into my joy,” a paraphrase of Jesus’ teaching in his lesson on investment. The point of the lesson being that some use what they have been given wisely and some do not. We are all given 168 hours each week. I am the first to confess, some weeks I use those hours in wiser ways than others. In our wallets and bank accounts, we have been entrusted certain amounts of money. Again, in confession, even a quick look through my home would show many things purchased and not used, a testament to the reality that some times I spend the funds God has given me wisely and sometimes, not so much. Sarah and I are taking some intentional steps to make the most of all that we have been given. As our children grow and our world seems to speed up even more everyday, it seems so important, to have a plan for the day, for the week, for the paycheck and for our energy.
It is hard to believe that we are nearing our second annual meeting together. To say this year has been a quick one, a hectic one and a wonderful one, would all be an understatement. In the last calendar year, Libby came home from the NICU and is now chasing her brothers, Noah and Finley began preschool together and Noah is looking ahead to riding the bus to the big school, Sarah and I shifted from simply living in New York to calling New York home. With so many of you, I am humbled by transitioning from your new pastor to someone you have come to trust. Thank you, for all of the ways that you have continued to embrace us, challenge me and welcome my leadership.
So here is what we have done, we baptized four amazing children and youth, 8 young people affirmed their faith, we welcomed 4 great adults into our congregation. We celebrated the lives Robert Tally, Henning Haggblom and Myrtle Pritz. We rejoiced at the weddings of Jimmy and Mirasol Orlando, Jacklyn and Chris Fallon and Eric and Jessica Wynne. We’ve blessed our animals and kids’ backpacks. Our youth have roasted smores in the pastor’s backyard and trekked to Houston and back, we’ve raised money selling produce and made artwork. We had a blast a trivia night a couple of times. We helped rock VBS with our neighboring churches. Our council has blessed our congregation by getting on fire at the Revitalizing Church Seminar and the subsequent learning which launched our new mission statement “Inspiring Change By Following Jesus.” Sarah and I flew around lady liberty with Joseph and Sandy, our Worship and Music committee wrote a custom worship service and the boys and I went fishing with Kenny. To all of this I say, “well done good and faithful servants!” This list only represents a fraction of the ministry that was accomplished. There are plenty of seeds that we have planted. The seeds of two mission trips, a revamped confirmation program complete with a mentorship aspect, hosting VBS and God only knows what else.
I wouldn’t want to be doing ministry anywhere else, or with anyone else. You guys are awesome and we love New York. I am honored to be your pastor and hope to stay right here for a long time. May God continue to bless our work for God’s glory!
Our New Mission Statement
We have a new mission statement. “Inspiring change by following Jesus.” Our church council members have been working at this for a couple of months. I am so proud of the collaborative effort. We prayed about what God is doing through this place, we debated, and revised. I am so happy with the final product. “Inspiring change by following Jesus” is why this place exists, why this community meets and what we are set on doing.
INSPIRING The angels inspired the shepherds to run to see the new born Jesus, the Spirit inspired the disciples to march with purpose out of the upper room where they were hiding after the death of Jesus and throughout the ages people have been inspired to share their faith with others. Through this inspiration people have been moved with compassion and it is the fuel that moves the church. “Inspiring” also is a means of how we are to function. We don’t use fear to scare others into faith (we know that doesn’t work) we show them what God has done in our lives and we invite them to wonder about what God can do in theirs. Being inspired to do something new is invitational, just like Jesus.
CHANGE Something is out-of-whack in our world, in our communities and within ourselves. One of the founders of the church, the Apostle Paul, wrote that he doesn’t understand what he does, and he does the stuff he hates. Change is hard, it takes time and tons of effort to redirect our efforts at times. We read countless stories in the Bible of Jesus meeting people in the most random places of their lives and offering them something far better. Physical, spiritual and mental healing, reconnecting someone with their community, lifting those that have been ostracized by others-Jesus brings change and we welcome God’s changes in our lives.
BY Here is how this inspired change is going to happen. Spoiler alert, it isn’t because of what we do.
FOLLOWING Jesus asks his disciples to leave their comfort zones. They walked away from jobs, family, friends, a life that they knew-to follow Jesus into one where they didn’t know much, except for the Rabbi. “Following” admits that we don’t know exactly where we are headed or how to get there. It is an act of humble worship and great trust to allow Jesus to lead our community and our lives.
JESUS Our leader, our rabbi, the one who has come into our lives and invited us into something greater. God’s dreams are better then our own, God’s vision for our lives is far more colorful and fun than we could imagine, so come join us in following our amazing God into a world we hardly knew existed.
Well that’s all good and nice, but how do we actually do it? There are three values that we uplift which will make our missional goal a reality.
First, we “worship to deepen our connections.” Using the cross itself as an example, we worship to connect with God (the vertical) and we worship alongside each other to connect with one another (the horizontal). If our worship doesn’t bring us closer to God or others, than we are doing something wrong.
Secondly, we value “education to challenge our understanding of God.” Growth always means some level of discomfort, and we welcome the challenge of seeing God in new ways. We need to push ourselves to see God in places and faces that we would have overlooked without becoming aware.
Lastly, we do what Jesus did. “Service with others to change the world.” Jesus often brought people into his miracles to change the world around them. Changing the world is a big job but doing so means that we begin with God changing our world. We invite God into our lives to give us a glimpse of what God is up to, and what we are being invited into and we join together to get to work making God’s kingdom show up on earth.