Working in Orlando
Have you ever experienced the sweetness of unity? There’s a certain joy and wonder when a diverse group of people come together and celebrate, work, and cry together. There is laughter, a lightness in your breast, a feeling of connection with others that borders on intimacy. I hope that you’ve experienced this, either with friends or at work, or even with your family.
As this post comes to you, the 35th General Assembly of the EPC is finishing up in Orlando, Florida. The EPC, if you didn’t know, is the denomination that Chapel Hill is a part of. And the General Assembly (or GA for short) is a once a year gathering of EPC churches from all around the nation, and even the world. While it’s certainly not a perfect group of people, Jesus is in the midst of this gathering. And we experience unity.
Yes “we,” since myself, Pastor Mark, Pastor Megan, and one of your Elders, Rosemary Lukens, have joined in the business of GA this year. We make an effort to send pastors and elders from Chapel Hill to wherever GA is hosted every year. Why do we consider it so important?
First is the business we conduct at GA. Matters that concern the entire denomination are presented and voted on here. Anything from theological concerns to what health benefits will look like for pastors. As an example of how this impacts us at Chapel Hill, this year Pastor Mark and Elder Rosemary were on a committee that looked at and recommended changes to the requirements for ordination in the EPC. As a denomination, we voted to make the education and training of pastors more accessible and more practical, hopefully increasing both the number and quality of ministers in churches. This matters to us here at Chapel Hill, particularly for our Pastoral Intern Ellis White, as he pursues his own education and ordination.
But the second reason this is worth our time is the relationships we make here. Personally, every year I go to GA, I have met people and made relationships that have a lasting impact on my ministry at Chapel Hill. In fact, the reason why Pastor Megan and I landed at Chapel Hill was because we went to GA and met Pastor Mark. Today, Megan and I sat at lunch with a group of fellow pastors who were under the age of 40 from all around the country and shared stories and strategies for success in ministry. From morning to night (literally, from 7am to 10pm), we’re meeting new people, rekindling old friendships, and making important connections. It’s enough to make this poor introvert curl into a ball, but I put my best energy into it because I know these relationships will impact the ministry at Chapel Hill. They already have.
So, that’s what some of your pastors (and one intrepid elder!) have been up to this week. It’s hard work, and we come back exhausted. But I won’t lie, it’s also very fun. Most of all, it’s a witness to the Holy Spirit at work as we meet people from all over the country, and the world, and find that we are of one mind and Spirit with them. Thank you for allowing us to serve this denomination, and serve you, by joining in the business of GA!