Hear ye, Hear ye!

Dear Church Family,                                                                                
 
          When Emery called me on Sunday night, October1, and ask if we could meet, a part of me wondered if this was about a move.  I put that thought aside and when we met on Monday, we covered many things. My name had indeed come up in relation to a different church. Emery told me that the Cabinet felt that there is another church in need of my particular gifts and asked me to pray about whether I thought it would be appropriate to take a new appointment at this time.  After a day or two of prayer, I accepted this offer.  My time in Branson allowed this decision to settle into my soul and, while making it was difficult, I believe this is the call of Christ on my life at this point. I will become the pastor of The First Methodist Church of Sallisaw, Ok on  February 15, 2018.
 
          This choice was not an easy one, for you here at Wagoner hold a great piece of my heart.  You have embraced Donna and I, and blessed us in so many ways. Thank you for the ways in which you have supported and helped me grow as a man and a pastor.  From the first Family Fun Day when so many guided me through waters deep and completely unknown, to my being allowed to watch the Love Closet and Open Door Worship grow, the goodness of Christ has flowed. A part of us will always hold Wagoner dear.
 
          While I expect Jesus to be involved in life, I have been blessed to see a great deal of growth take place within the church and within myself.  You have always been pillars in the community and this tradition has grown. Your support for Brighter Futures, reaching out to those less fortunate, and service on the boards and committees that keep our community running, is a joy.  The recent resurgence of Children’s Ministry and always stable UMM and UMW mission outflow are visible signs of Christ’s Spirit working within you.
 
          I have been blessed to see Christ’s Hand working in so many ways, and as I see my time coming to a close, I trust Jesus to continue His goodness.  The lucky one who takes the reigns from me will be serving some of God’s finest. As I have seen the Spirit work through the Bishop and Cabinet in the past, I look forward to hearing and seeing Wagoner continue its journey, in Christ, with renewed vigor.
 
          The SPRC will be working with Emery to define the church’s leadership needs and discern your new pastor. When they arrive, I am sure that your new pastor and parsonage family will be missing their old friends and wondering whether or not you will accept them, welcome them, and support their ministry. I was when I came. Many of you that first Sunday shared things that made me think I was in the “right” place. As newcomers, they will need your warmth, your acceptance, and your love just as much as my family and I have needed it.  Knowing you, I envy their experience here and I trust that you will take the initiative in taking the “first steps” to reach out to them and show them that you are ready to walk with Christ together.
 
          The fact that I will no longer be your pastor when I move does not mean that you are suddenly no longer important in my life.  You will remain in my prayers and I look forward to hearing about your lives and continued effectiveness in ministry.  But it does mean that after moving I can no longer be your pastor.  You will want to give your newly appointed pastor every opportunity to be used by God in this local church community.  This means that I will not be able to return to perform pastoral duties such as funerals or weddings.  I do not want to do anything here that would complicate the acceptance and effectiveness of your new pastor.  Ministry in a new location is challenging to all.  Both your new pastor and I will be equally busy attempting to meet the demands of new appointments.  I hope that you will continue to pray for us and begin to pray for those who will be sent to serve you.  I hope that you will understand that I am motivated by love and not by indifference. Shannon and Randy, both, blessed me in this difficult way.              
 
          I will still be doing my utmost to serve Jesus faithfully, as your pastor, as we continue the journey together until the middle of February.  For now I am still your pastor and as you know, that is something that I greatly value.
 
          The greatest compliment that you can pay my family and I is to keep growing spiritually, both individually and as a church.  Determine now to be in church each Sunday that you are physically able.  Find new and meaningful ways of serving God through your church.  Make plans now to introduce one of your friends to Jesus Christ this year.  And, above all else, “do not grow weary in well doing” (Galatians 6:9) and do not “give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing.  Instead, ... encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer” (Hebrews 10:25).  Together, we are the Church, a marvelous part of the Body of Christ.  Christ is counting on you!  I remain ...
 
                                                Your brother in Christ
                                                              and your friend,
                                                                            Jim