Blog Post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us. I Thessalonians 2:8
At the upcoming presbytery gathering on February 7th at Southminster, I will be installed as Presbytery Leader of Giddings-Lovejoy. I have served as your transitional presbytery leader and will now become permanent. The option to move from interim to permanent was part of my original contract. I would like to share with you some personal thoughts of what this new relationship means to me.
Being installed is a very personal and emotional event. It means entering into a covenant relationship with the presbytery. I have a strong internal sense of call to institutional ministry. It is the same call I experienced while serving at McCormick Seminary and the Presbytery of Milwaukee. At these places I was able to serve a broader theological, racial and geographic area than most local congregations encompass. I have also served as pastor of Presbyterian congregations as well. Serving in a congregation allows me to express love and care for members as I live with them through the challenges of life. It is the same love and care I feel for each congregation in Giddings-Lovejoy, without exception. I rejoice in the good news I hear when a congregation reaches a goal or has a wonderful accomplishment. My heart breaks when a congregation is in conflict, suffers a tragedy, or has to end its ministry.
I have found relationships to be the key. Being installed means being interconnected with the members of Giddings-Lovejoy and the communities they serve. It is about building, nurturing, and strengthening relationships.
I am blessed to have family and friends that I love deeply. Unfortunately, most of them live a good distance away from me. We stay in touch through calls, texts and email. But even then, sometimes I get busy and communication runs dry. I have found relationships take work, and communication runs both ways. I have as much responsibility to reach out as they have to contact me.
Interconnection is also a two-way street. As your installed Presbytery Leader, I am called to reach out and build connections. Simultaneously, the members of Giddings-Lovejoy must be willing to reach out and connect by communicating with me, volunteering and participating in presbytery events.
In this way I can get to know you. I can come to understand your values, your joys and your worries. Likewise, I am committed to being transparent and opening myself to you. This is not easy, and I am not perfect at it. As an African American male, being hidden and emotionally elusive is a survival instinct. My sense of call, vocation, covenant, and baptism call me in a different direction than my upbringing. I am called to love and be transparent. Love without transparency is a noisy gong and clanging cymbal.
Thank you for saying yes to God’s call and allowing me to serve as your Presbytery Leader.
Rev. Craig M. Howard