Blog post by the Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
This weekend I experienced two churches in two different parts of our presbytery.
Imagine asking 40 leaders in your church to come out on a Saturday morning for plenaries and workshops. As they arrive there are quality donuts, good coffee, and fruit. There is lively conversation around tables as people interact with the information and with each other. Plenty of laughter fills the room, people feel free to speak, and recognize they are being heard by the pastor and other leaders. This was Saturday morning at First United Belleville in Belleville Illinois, where Pastor Rob Dyer and I presented workshops.
Something is happening at First United Belleville. There is remarkable energy along with a diversity of age and race. What strikes me is the willingness of people to participate and be involved with the vision of the church. They are making it happen, and the presence of a pastor who is a dynamic leader, makes the difference.
Now, switch to Sunday. I experienced another dynamic and charismatic pastor. Karl Hauser is the new pastor at Southminster Presbyterian. Karl and Jennifer (who is also a minister of Word and Sacrament) arrived here from Northern California. Last week they closed on their home and are settling into the community with their 15 month old toddler, Benny. Karl is already making a difference in the church with his creative ministry style and personal engagement.
I have to say a few words about Benny! He is a curious, active, toddler, who is musically inclined. Benny has a lot to say, but we can’t understand his words yet! As I watched him speak “baby talk,” I began to wonder about all he will teach his parents about life and the world as he sees it.
Southminster (and the presbytery) is like Benny. They are learning a new way of being church, as they articulate God’s dream for them. This future of words-not-yet-completely-formed, will not be a straight line from the present, but it will curl, dip, and dive! It is a future of hope and excitement as seen through a new lens. God is working with and through the congregation, and they have elected the right person to lead them.
Two churches. Two histories. Two futures. The common thread is energy and leadership. It is a great time to be part of Giddings-Lovejoy!
Rev. Craig M. Howard