Larry’s gotta go, his time is up, we know…
Larry’s got to go away…
Fredericksburg is glad, but Lynchburg’s really sad
Bless you each and every day.
(Written by Nancy Johnson as part of a Good-bye Roast)
If getting roasted is a compliment, then I am one fortunate pastor. Two songs and one poem plus a skit of a Used Car Salesman/Pastor helping someone choose a church to attend. Then came the stories of hyperactivity, coffee addiction and the constant stream of change and new challenges.
I had the privilege of serving the Lynchburg District of the United Methodist Church for 16 years. The first eight was a thrilling roller coaster ride as pastor of Timberlake UMC during a period of growth and passionate ministry. From rebuilding a local church destroyed by a tornado to providing fishing boats to a village in Sri Lanka, Timberlake UMC modeled the vision symbolized by a Lighthouse: “A Light to Guide You Safely Home.”
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:14-16
The remaining eight years as District Superintendent were spent helping 90 churches, many facing decline. But there were numerous bright spots as churches enjoyed fruitful ministry and at times accomplished miracles. There was a “Stop Hunger Now” event producing over 100,000 meals for Haiti. We sponsored mission trips to other parts of the country and our Park View Community Mission continues to provide groceries and other help for hundreds of people throughout the Lynchburg area.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing… When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” John 15:5,8
But the real story of the Lynchburg District is written in the lives of pastors and laity who served and sacrificed to serve their church, their community and our risen savior, Jesus Christ. As a District Superintendent, I was privileged to be a witness to many of those stories.
It’s… fare thee well… I’m back to preachin’
My face in Lynchburg you’ll see no more
But… just know… my ghost will linger
In appointments that I made before
(Written by Rob Colwell as part of another Roast)
So, as I leave Lynchburg, I hope you will celebrate the memories and the people who played a part in shaping those memories. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been roasted and even toasted and must confess I laughed as hard as everyone. Someone said, it was easy to roast me because there was so much ready material. Hmmmm! I also heard touching stories of lives impacted during those same sixteen years.
So I leave with a profound sense of gratitude, knowing that as God leads me elsewhere, I will leave behind, many memories, lots of friends and the continued hope of seeds sown that will continue to grow and multiply in the years ahead. I also leave with anticipation of what God has in store for me next.
Because on the Lynchburg District we see problems as “perspective lifters.” And y’all would have known that if you actually read my Sowing Seeds of Faith Devotional Blog and Worldwide Newsletter – that I get up at three in the morning to send to you people! You’re welcome!
(written by Dave Rochford as part of another Roast)
Next: Hello to Fredericksburg