My Dad always taught me to have an “attitude of gratitude”. This past Sunday, Reagan Sommers challenged us to “live a lifestyle of thankfulness.” Well, to be perfectly honest, I don’t always have that attitude. With that said, I want to take a moment between Evermore’s 75th Anniversary and Thanksgiving to express some things I am thankful for after 25 years at this church. Grab a cup of punkin’ flavored somethin’ and take-a-load-off...The list is a bit long. I am thankful for:
- The Food. Oh, the food. I have said it with fork-in-hand for many years of the Yoder family that I married into and of this church that took me in, “I love this family” (which is code word for this meal/food is awesome). I love to break bread with y’all (Acts 2:46).
- The Congregation. I could not possibly name all of the people and all of the ways that you have blessed me and my family through the years. This is not just a church to me...THIS IS A FAMILY. I see you all as beloved family members and I give thanks to God for all of you.
- The Trust. Since the Fall of 1994 you have trusted me with your kids and yourselves to teach from the Word of God. What a privilege. I am continually humbled at the way you have allowed me to grow in my teaching gift. Walking with y’all through the Bible each week (with “20/20 vision”) has been life changing for me.
- The Opportunities. Mennonite Youth Fellowship (now Seventy4) Leaders, Youth Pastor, Post High (now College and Career) Leaders, Oversees Missionaries and now Associate Pastor. You have given us (Joni and me) a place to serve. Almost half of my 25 years at Evermore have been on staff; the other half has been as a volunteer. I treasure them all.
- The Pushbacks. Occasionally, I have had persons disagree with either a theological point or a methodology of mine. These opportunities have enabled me to examine myself, my ways and the Scriptures to actually test right and wrong, as well as good and bad. If you have given me pushback (and you know who you are) 😊 thank you for challenging me to dig deeper.
- The Team. Working with the staff here at Evermore is a true blessing. To say I enjoy being with my co-workers is an understatement. I love to come to work!
- The Freedom. As Missions and Outreach Pastor, I am not always here. You have sent me, and allowed me, to go to some interesting places for the Gospel. You must know that this is a rarity for most churches who don’t have the Acts 1:8 vision that Evermore has. Thank you for caring about those who don’t know Jesus, both near and far.
- The Elders. Our Elder Board has been the place where I have seen Biblical leadership and organizational stewardship at its best. We are an Elder driven church and that has proven to add to our success and our growth. Thank you Elders, past and present.
- The Volunteers. Though we struggle at times to find leaders for certain ministries, I can’t let that overshadow the great number of people who teach, fix/repair, serve, deliver, pray, drive, cook, gather, visit and counsel at this church. We are a strong body! Thank you all that give your time, treasure and talent here at Evermore.
- The Education. I am in my second year of getting my Master’s in Theology. This church, along with the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches, have made this possible. I have learned so much already and I am looking forward to what’s to come as I complete this degree.
- The Time Off. It goes without saying that we all need a break. Knowing that I can take my vacation time without worry is a blessing. Additionally, the Sabbatical protocol that we follow here at Evermore is more needed than I have admitted. I didn’t realize how “in need” I was when I took my first one. I am sure I will be more aware and prepared for my next in a few years. Thank you for caring for us (your pastors) in this way.
Please, don’t judge me that I put The Food first...I was hungry when I wrote this.
I truly love you all.