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Chapel Hill Out and About

Posted by Pastor Mark Toone on

It might surprise you to discover that January is the craziest of months in my annual schedule. For the first three weeks of every year I travel to participate in gatherings that represent some of my responsibilities (and privileges) beyond the walls of Chapel Hill.

The first week I travel to Orlando, Florida to meet with the pastors of the 35 or so largest churches in our denomination, those with 1000 or more in worship attendance. I am honored to be the moderator of this group. It is my favorite conference of the year. For two days, we share the high and low points as well as the heartbreaks of our last year. We also become a sounding board for each other’s toughest questions (especially valuable for our younger leaders). And one of my favorite times in the lightning round where we have three minutes to share the best ideas from our last year. I always type like crazy to capture these tried and tested jewels! Pastors who hate attending conferences attend this one because, as they put it, “I’m sitting in a room where I am understood.” My closest relationships of support and accountability come from that circle of friends. It is a real life-giver for me.

The second week is the Whitworth University board retreat. I have served on that body, with a brief hiatus, since 1992! Whitworth is a Presbyterian-related Christian university in Spokane that is still holding on to its Christian moorings, something increasingly rare these days. You may not realize it, but Gig Harbor is the second largest feeder community into Whitworth after Spokane (where it is located), most of them coming from Chapel Hill. We’ve sent nearly 100 students to Whitworth in the last 30+ years, a remarkable number. I view my presence on the board as an opportunity to help steward this resource that has served so many of our families.

And finally, the third week of January is the meeting of our denominational regional gathering called the Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest. In fact, as you read this, I am returning from Sunset Presbyterian Church in Portland where we will, among other things, have voted to confirm the call of Ellis White as our new Associate Pastor AND received Rachel White as a candidate for ordination, making her the fourth in the Chapel Hill pipeline (the other three being Ryan Palmer, Julie Hawkins, and Gunnar Tesdahl.)

It's not always apparent what all we pastors do beyond the weekends. I thought you might enjoy a glimpse into some of the “rest” of our lives. And I look forward to being back in the pulpit this weekend as we continue our sermon series from Mark called “Instagram Jesus.” See you then…and don’t forget to bring a friend!

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