“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
I need to highlight one more event from this past weekend. Not because I have great photographs but because it featured great people. I grabbed a few blurry images with my phone but what really counts is the story of good people doing great work in response to God’s clear call.
Ten years ago, well before Rebekah and I made our way to North Carolina, Ted and Moffett Churn were doing interim and transitional pastoral work in the Raleigh area and the Presbytery of New Hope was – to put it in simple terms – in a bit of a funk (New Hope, for those who don’t know, is the affiliation of some 112 Presbyterian congregations representing more than 25,000 Presbyterians between the Outer Banks and Chapel Hill).
Ted answered the call to serve as Presbytery Executive, meaning he would serve both as pastor to the clergy and chief executive officer for the Presbytery, providing encouragement, support and resources for the churches and our collective mission to both share the Good News and to put the Gospel message into action.
Ted’s approach was exactly what New Hope needed, as he shored up the bonds of love and gently called the wildly disparate collection of conservative, moderate, progressive, and category-defying congregations into a sense of shared vision around the simple imperative to follow Jesus.
Meanwhile, Moffett joined the staff at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church as interim associate pastor. She helped prepare the congregation for Rebekah’s work as senior pastor, and we will always be grateful for her brief but critically important tenure here.
So with all that in mind, Rebekah and I headed over to Wilson Saturday afternoon to help celebrate the ministry of Ted and Moffett Churn and to mark Ted’s retirement after so many years of fruitful and cutting-edge ministry.
The theme was “Hats off to Ted,” and I especially enjoyed the presentation of three hats.
- The bishop’s mitre poked fun at the misconception many have that presbytery executives represent the pinnacle of a hierarchal chain of command. Nothing could be further from the truth! And, Ted, good luck trying to implement any ecclesiastical authority at home in retirement!
- The chef’s hat celebrates Ted and Moffett’s love of hospitality and good food, and – hopefully – points the way to egalitarian kitchen activities.
- And the last – it looks like a garden gnome hat – gives a nod to the fact that both Ted and Moffett seriously enjoy their garden. What better and more theologically correct way to focus some energy now it is time to move away from four decades of leadership in the greater church.
As for me and Rebekah, we are blessed and grateful because of the ministry and the friendship of Ted and Moffett. They have both truly represented the winsome, invitational character of Christ, and the presence of God’s generous love in every aspect of ministry.
Well done, both of you, in so many ways – DEREK