Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ;
It is with great joy that Cal and I look forward to being a part of the First Church family and your ministry to the neighbors in the Lakes Region and the world. Let me take a moment to share a little bit about my faith journey.
My journey began growing up at East Parish United Methodist Church in Salisbury, Mass., a small vacation community just over the border from Seabrook. (Although just outside the state boundaries, the congregation was a part of the former New Hampshire Annual Confer- ence,) The nurturing faith of Sunday School teachers and pastors gave me a understanding of the caring love of Jesus. Also, the youth group gave me my first exposure to ministry beyond the church walls; including English tutoring in Lawrence and a service project to the Laconia State School.
It was at this point in my life where I first started hearing God’s call to ministry. However, it would take a while for me to truly understand what that call would mean. This understand- ing became more clear during my years at West Virginia Wesleyan College and United Theo- logical Seminary in Dayton, Ohio; not only through excellent education, but by allowing me to experience ministry in a variety of circumstances and cultures.
This variety has continued in my life as a pastor. I have served communities from the White Mountains, to the Canadian border in Maine, to the inner-city of Springfield, Mass. While each community has been unique, with their own circumstances and needs, there is a com- mon need among us all to know that there is a God who loves and strengthens us and to ex- perience that caring through the witness of those who follow Jesus.
This, I believe, is what defines ministry in the 21st century. It goes without saying that the world around us has changed considerably since many of us began our journeys of faith. Sometimes it is hard for us to keep up. However, while the circumstances in which we serve Jesus have changed, the need for those around us to experience the love of God in relevant and vibrant ways is as real as ever. Celebrating that love and sharing it with our neighbors is at the core of who we are called to be as the “people called Methodists”. Cal and I are ex- cited to continuing on that journey with each of you.
Peace, Pastor Jim