Traditionally, our books open with a letter from the Pastor before moving into the ministry information of the Guide Section. Over the years, we have all had our favorite letters, or ones that stand out to us from all of the others.
Each month, we will feature one or two of our favorite letters quoted in a blog article to give you ideas for your Letter from the Pastor. To start us off, here is one of my favorites from a couple of years ago:
“A few years ago I was pastoring a church with a small but growing ministry to Hispanics. Part of the ministry was helping with English skills, and we were always looking for something…almost anything…of which we could round up enough copies to use for group reading material. On a whim one Sunday afternoon on the way to the English class, I picked up a box of our leftover church directories. We handed them out and turned to the page in the front with the church’s history and plowed through it together to translate and discuss.
“I didn’t think a whole lot more about it until I was in the grocery store a couple of weeks later. I heard Spanish being spoken in the neighboring aisle. I’ve only picked up bits and pieces of the language by being around it, but miraculously an entire sentence that I could understand came to my ear: “Esso es mi iglesia…” or “This is my church…”
“I recognized the voice too, as one of the men from our Sunday afternoon group. I edge around the corner to peek just as he was pulling a well worn copy of the church directory out of his back pocket, where he evidently kept it, folded in half, for occasions like this. As he unfolded it, I expected him to show them the front cover, which featured the standard stock-in-trade photograph of our church.
“Instead, he impatiently flipped past the front cover and into the first few pages of the directory until he found the names of the members. He proudly handed the book to his companion and began to point out individuals and quickly relate stories or facts. The pride on his face as he showed off his friends was obvious, and a little humbling.
“In a way, this little book that you’re holding in your hands is just another piece of information in an information flooded society. You’ll have trouble figuring out where to keep it, and when you need it, you’ll have trouble remembering where you put it. Some of you may even decide it’s not worth keeping. In another way, though, what you hold in your hands is your church.
“Of course, it’s no more the actual church than is the building we gather in on Sunday morning. But in many ways, it’s a more fitting symbol, because though it is just words on a page, those words are about the people who choose to be a part of our fellowship and unite their cause with our own. Without the people named between these covers, the building on Main Street would be meaningless.
“If you’re holding a copy, it’s probably because your name is in here, somewhere. This is your church. If you’ve picked it up by accident or out of curiosity, leaf through these names and know that we would love for yours to be among them.”
-Rev. Bruce Nettleton, Pastor at First UMC