Posted on Jan 17, 2018 by Pastor Dave Whetter
By now, I hope you have read through the letter Council sent out last Friday, January 12, 2018. If you haven’t yet had time to read it, please do so, because it is filled with information about our future and the decisions that we need to make as a congregation at our annual meeting. As you will see, your leadership has been forced to make some very tough decisions, such as eliminating Meghan Harmison’s Adult Ministry and Outreach position on April 1. In addition, leadership has recommended that we reduce Heather Lewis’ Director of Music and Worship position to three-quarter time. Even with these unfortunate cuts, we will still need to make a special fund appeal to ensure we can pay all our bills in 2018. Brothers and Sisters, it is time for us, as a faith community, to decide how we will continue to follow God’s call for us, as individuals and as a faith community, and I hope you spend the next week prayerfully considering how you will and can make a difference here in the future.
None of these decisions come as a surprise, as our leadership has been very upfront for the past couple of years about pending position cuts that might become necessary if our financial position didn’t improve. I think many of us hoped beyond hope that we would never have to make these severe cuts, but on the other hand, to truly follow God’s call for our lives often means saying more than just, “Yes, Lord, I will follow.” As I noted in my December 22, 2017 letter, when we say “yes” to God, we are promising to be faithful, obedient, and generous. To be all those things oftentimes means we have to say “no” to other things.
I know for me it has been almost 20 years since I said out loud “yes” to God when I knew he was calling me to ordained ministry. But as difficult as it was to get to that point in my life, what came next was even more difficult. Once I said “yes,” I discovered I had to say “no” to other things. I had to say no to my job, to a home that we loved, to our children many, many times, and to many other things in my life that would have kept me from following my call to seminary and ordination. Saying yes to God always involves saying no to other things, and sometimes even to other people. What God expects of us when we say yes is that we will say yes with our whole lives. The First Commandment says it best: “Thou shall have no other gods…”.
I honestly believe God has great plans for Salem, but I also believe that to truly do what God is calling us to do will require us to make major changes in how we do ministry. The question now is, are we willing to do that? When Jesus called his first disciples, he said to Simon, Andrew, James, and John, come follow me and I will make you fish for people (Mark 1:17). In saying yes to follow Jesus, they had to say no to their families, to their careers, and to much more. We may not have to say no to our families or to our careers, but the reality is to follow God’s call means there are things we will be challenged to say no to as we follow.
As we prepare for our annual meeting next week, we each must answer the question: What are we ready and willing to say no to in our lives so that we might fully follow God’s call?
Shalom, Pr. Dave