A “first” for me: choosing and then joining a church

 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another

Hebrews 10:22-25
– Derek at church

Today, Sunday January 16, it had been my plan to meet with the elders and become a member of Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church. But now we have light snow, ice, sleet, and this winter storm warning. So Rebekah and I will have to crank up the new TV and see what kind of cachet Mac has on screen!

This is a unique moment in my history because it’s the first time I have ever been in a position to think about, visit around, and then choose a particular congregation where I can hone – and home – my life as a disciple.

Growing up, I attended Folkestone Baptist Church, because that is where my parents took us as children. It’s where I grew up, where I discovered my personal faith, and where I learned what it means to be a part of a community built around following Jesus.

During college, like many students, I milled around several different churches. I often went to First Presbyterian DeLand with Rebekah, but my attendance was sporadic and I never became a member. During grad school in Atlanta, again, Rebekah and I bounced around between a number of local churches and student ministry assignments.

Pensacola, Brandon, Wake Forest:

Then, in 1982, Rebekah was called as associate pastor to Trinity Presbyterian in Pensacola. I transferred my membership from Folkestone Baptist because I wanted to be “all in” as a pastor’s husband. Later, in 1996, my membership and my commitment moved to FPCBrandon when Rebekah was called as head of staff. Finally, in 2013, I joined WFPC here in Wake Forest.

I always threw myself into participation, and service, and leaderships, and generosity at one-hundred percent, and I did it for two reasons. These are both important:

  1. I believe we are all called to “Live like we mean it” – and that includes investing our best, our energy, our treasures, and our creativity in the local faith community. No half measures when it comes to being part of the Body of Christ.
  2. Then, I believe “all in” comes with the territory as a pastor’s spouse; this is a privilege, a responsibility, and a spiritual discipline. It is critically important to be present, to be visible, to be enthusiastic, to be committed, and to be the biggest cheerleader possible for the church and the community.

It has felt strange to be a visitor in church. It was fun to travel around, and you can track most of our experiences in the “Derek & Rebekah Go to Church” series of posts from August through December 2021. But after 40 years in a very specific role, this new way to engage with church has not been easy.

Looking Ahead:

So I am looking forward to this time of discovery and of simple, and in some ways more focused, worship. And I understand that, because of time, distance, and responsibilities with my parents next door, my involvement will be limited to begin with.

But I will be looking to the people and the ministries of Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church to inspire and encourage me during this new leg of my ongoing spiritual journey.

If any of you need a nudge when it comes to finding your way either to church or back to church, let this be it. You can read “The Why of Church” and why I believe it is so important, by clicking here.

Peace and love – DEREK

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