I want to tell you a story about a small church in Northwest Georgia. About this time a year ago, they were a congregation of around 100 persons. Then, after a long and painful struggle, they split. Halfway through a week in May of last year, the pastor, session, and over half the congregation left to begin another church in another Presbyterian denomination.
Ironically, the first Sunday after the split was Pentecost and the pastor that led the charge to leave the church was quoted in a newspaper speaking of the "delight" of a new church being born on Pentecost.
Of course, nothing was said about the fractured community that they left behind in order to do so.
However, the people who decided to stay did so because they didn't believe that certain issues were worth splitting over.
So they stuck with it.
They decided to come together and continue preaching the Gospel and doing the ministry they have been embodying for well over 100 years.
And so, they called a young seminarian and invited him to preach and lead worship with them in October, November, and December. These three months continued into January and February.
Throughout this time, this community ministered to me (the young seminarian) by giving him a space to preach, teach, speak and listen, and grow as a pastor. In my time with them, they ministered to me by giving me an opportunity to preach weekly, teach Sunday school, write liturgy, organize worship, preside at a funeral service, do pastoral care, and stretch my wings as one preparing to serve as teaching elder in the PC(USA).
Yesterday, I said goodbye to them for the next chapter of our lives as I begin a new position at another church. Yet I will always hold them in my heart as a community that loved me and encouraged me to keep the faith and fight the good fight.
To the people who are Silver Creek Presbyterian Church: thank you, thank you, thank you! Your strength has given me strength and your endurance has given me endurance. May the light of Christ continue to shine through y'all and the ministry to which y'all have been called!
And to my readers: remember that there is life on the other side of the split. For the ministry of Christ does not depend on our size or our glamour; it depends only on our faithfulness.
And Silver Creek Presbyterian Church has plenty!