Dear Friends, I heard an old story that suddenly has new meaning. A Methodist preacher was sent to a new church in rural Georgia. The preacher, eager to make a good first impression, noticed a large over-grown tree on the church property. With great haste the preacher cut down the tree and hauled it away.
Church folk were somewhat less than pleased. The tree was over two hundred years old and had been planted by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism on one of his journeys to that part of the state. It had been a source of great pride. That pastoral appointment did not last long.
The new meaning for us in this old story is the importance of communication. Had the preacher asked about the tree before cutting it down, things might have been different. Had someone told the preacher the story of John Wesley's visit and his contribution to the landscape, things might have been different.
The first months of a new appointment are very important. While I have had a few introductory meetings with the Staff Parish Relations Committee, the staff, and Travis, there is so much more I am eager to learn about your ministries. I am eager to work with you as we embrace the vision for the future of the Wilmington United Methodist Church. I am eager to meet each one of you and to learn how I can best serve as your pastor. Please don't hesitate to tell me the things you think I should know. I would rather be told something two or three times, than not be told at all.
I prefer to be addressed by my first name. If you are comfortable addressing me in this way, you are more than welcome to simply call me Peter. If the formalities are important to you, Rev. Hey or simply Pastor would be fine. I really don't want to be called "Pastor Peter", the two "p" sounds are so close together that sounds like the beginning of a limerick. My pronouns are "he, him, and his".
I would like to help us get to know each other better by using my first sermon to tell you about my call to ordained ministry. In the weeks to come, I hope to learn more about you. I want to know your history and your hopes. I want to know your dreams and your disappointments.
Grace and peace