It is hard to believe that this September marks my 10th anniversary here with you at Underwood Memorial Baptist Church. I distinctly remember the phone call from Kate Olsen, a member of the pastoral search committee, asking, “How do you feel about your neighbors to the north? I am calling from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin…” The search committee was comprised of people in their 20s to those in their 80s, giving me a glimpse into the values of the church. I was living and working in Chicago at the time, and fully expected to move south, closer to family, and further from the snow. However, from the first encounter, the people of this community were consistently laid-back, hospitable, genuine, and loving. That’s a tough combination to top, so as the last of the Harley-Davidson 100th revelers roared out, as I rolled into town with my boxes and anticipation.
I remember, during my candidating weekend, there was an open house session where all members of the community could come to meet and ask me whatever questions they wanted answered. About half-way through one session, Neil Rosenow came, and standing in the doorway to the fellowship hall, peering at me from beneath his eyebrows, looking imposing, bellowed, “I just want to know, when you are making preparations for Sunday mornings, will you take the Packers’ schedule into consideration?” I was duly warned, from the beginning.
It has been a wonderful decade. During these past 10 years, we’ve become a Welcoming and Affirming church, continuing the long-standing witness of inclusion and hospitality present at our church’s inception. I’ve married and had a child. We’ve seen the economy soar and plummet, members have joined, others have passed on to Heaven; children who were middle schoolers when I arrived are now well out of college and into careers, but the core of who we are, as members and participants in God’s work here in this church has remained the same. What a blessing to have received and answered the call to be your pastor! These past ten years have flown by so quickly. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for all of us. Thank you for the privilege of serving together with you for this past decade.
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