“This is how the world will recognize that you are my disciples…” – Jesus

Making sure pastor Tim is equipped!
Making sure pastor Tim is well equipped!

I have one message this morning: “Love and appreciate your church staff!”

Seriously. Monday evening was our goodbye party with the FPCB church staff. I can’t say enough what a remarkable, faithful, capable, and committed group of people work at First Presbyterian Church of Brandon. There are several “must-haves” if a church is going to thrive, and having a staff that loves one-another is a hot contender for #1.

“Rebekah & Derek’s Great Adventure”

Just so we all understand how much these folk “get it,” this is what happened first:

  • The staff showered pastor Tim with everything from gag-gifts to gift-cards for date-nights out with Kelly, along with the promise of free baby-sitting. Before one word was said about “Goodbye Rebekah,” the church staff made sure to throw 100% support and care and love behind Tim. Now that’s exceptional!

We broke bread together, we enjoyed one-another’s company, and then the staff lavished Rebekah (and me) with all kinds of generous and thoughtful gifts designed to help us with a smooth transition, and to remind us of what a large chunk of our hearts will remain in Brandon, and that the love of Jesus binds us together with ties that can never be broken.

CRITICALLY IMPORTANT: Jesus said that the key evidence of “really being my disciples” is the presence of love among his followers.

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:34-35)

Simply put, we can’t hope to accomplish anything for the Kingdom of God unless we first love one-another with the Jesus kind of love.

DSC_0130GREAT ADVICE: I believe I’ve shared before the awesome advice Rebekah’s mother gave me one day, when we were talking about what it might mean for me to be a preacher’s spouse. Here’s what she said:

“First, love God. Then, love the preacher. Finally, love the church. Love the Lord, love the preacher, love the church; in that order. That’s all you need to know.”

Well, this church staff, at FPCBrandon, have a similar approach. Their love for God shines brightly; they obviously love the preachers; and out of those two loves comes both a love for the church and a quality of ministry that is, in a word, remarkable.

If any of my readers who are not members of FPCBrandon are wondering exactly what you should expect from your leadership at church (both the church staff and the elders/deacons), expect this: expect that your leaders are always willing to grow when it comes to the admonition of Jesus to demonstrate their discipleship in terms of living out loud the Gospel of Love.

We have been, and we continue to be, truly blessed – DEREK

First Presbyterian of Brandon, church staff goodbye party
First Presbyterian of Brandon, church staff goodbye party


  1. Much of what you have said here is apparent in my Church. We love our pastor, that is except the ones who left because they didn’t understand what he was trying to teach them and show them. First and formost he shows his love in that we know he is not above us, but like us. He shows he takes his duties serious in that he teaches us God’s word so that we know how to apply it rightly. It would be hard to send this pastor on. I know one day that is bound to happen, but I dread the day, even though we all love our associate pastor greatly too. I just hope it is not too soon.
    Congratulations in the move and my prayers are with you as you blend in with your new spiritual family. In Christ, a sister with love,


  2. Rebekah & Derek,

    I am Paul Winter, Jenny Vartanian’s father. Marilyn & I wish you both the best in your new Ministry. We will miss you both as much as your FPCB Church Family will. We enjoy singing with your choir when we are there in Jan. & Feb.

    We are going through the same at our church, New Life Presbyterian, Sterling Heights, MI. Our Minister of only 7 years is retiring in Oct. We, unfortunately, are a very small church, made up mostly of seniors, and are hoping that God will provide the direction & the Minister for our future.

    We hope that God will continue to bless you both in your future endeavors.

    Our Best Wishes for you & Rebekah and hope that sometime our paths may cross in this world or the next.


    Marilyn & Paul Winter
    Shelby Township, MI.

    PS If your ever in the area we would be excited to see you.


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