The news is out, but we have several weeks to go. You have no doubt heard by now that the Millers (and the Martins and Permans) are leaving Howe at the end of June. We will begin a new chapter of our ministry lives on July 1 at Argos United Methodist Church. At that time you will get a new pastor as well. I am sure by the time you read this you (and I) will know who the next pastor will be. We should all start praying for that person right away. We should pray that the transition would be easy, that the new pastor will love the people of Howe and Pretty Prairie, and that both congregations will embrace him/her.
In the mean time, I would like to reflect a little, and dream about what the future might hold for all of us.
To begin with, we have experienced a lot as a family here. Molly started and finished middle school. She started and finished high school. She started college. Molly also went to her proms, got her driver’s license and performed in the school musical. Life was pretty good for Molly in LaGrange County. Shannon worked in two different jobs that she really loved- the current one she hates to give up. She had surgery to remove ovarian cancer. I struggled with gout and had skin cancer. But we both have felt that the community of Howe and the congregations of Howe and Pretty Prairie were perfect for us.
In ministry we have had tremendous success through the years. At Pretty Prairie we have repaired all the windows, re-oriented and replaced the porch/ front steps, built a ramp, re-roofed the church, installed central air-conditioning, fixed the issues with the bell tower and built a lovely home for the bell. At Howe we have upgraded and replaced our sound system, got a new organ, remodeled the restrooms and put a new roof on the church. But none of those items are ministries.
We have not lacked in ministry, though. We have had several years of very positive ministry with Kid’s Club. We have housed and then sponsored the only pre-school in Howe. The Coconut Hut has become one of the outstanding outreaches of our churches. We have had great music programs. One of our members has entered the ministry. Several members of both churches have completed Lay Speaker’s training. We have provided worship services monthly at Life Care Center. We are very involved in ministries with our cluster group at Pioneer Estates, in worship and in Mission Possible. We connected with Master’s Commission. Both churches have supported- and participated in- missions in Uganda and Jamaica, among other places. Our churches are the primary support of Wesley School in Uganda, and the only support of Kanyike Joseph. We have done great things, and God willing we will continue to do great things for God.
So what does the future look like? Who can really know? I think it looks good for both churches, and for our family. Everyone gets a new, fresh start. We get a clean slate. And that’s what the Christian faith is all about. We get to start new ministries, breathe new life into old ones and to continue the work that God has given us. New lives will be won to Christ and others will grow in faith. More people will be called into ministry and God will be glorified.
We will miss Howe and Pretty Prairie. We will always hold our time here as a blessed period in our lives. We are looking forward to a new kind of relationship with folks who have been parishioners, but will now be fondly thought of as friends. We will always be praying for you. And we hope that there is kindness in your hearts toward us, and that you will be praying for the Millers.