The Special Christmas Offering is designated for the Regions of the Christian Church. When we watched the video on Sunday it lifted up ways that the offering is used. Church camp – of course. Tiffany is now famous because she was included in the video. We fully appreciate how the offering helps with church camp from the many years of sending children and youth to camp. The offering also helps with the Search and Call process. Again, we fully appreciate this as Pine Valley has just gone through the process in calling me as your new pastor. So we fully understand what this means. But then the video mentions that the region is there to help provide pastoral care to churches and ministers. What does this look like exactly?
I have had firsthand experience with this one in recent months. My brother was diagnosed with 2 brain aneurysms in June of 2013. The aneurysms were very dangerous, and the hospital who gave him the news didn’t give a positive prognosis. They surgically wouldn’t touch him, because it was beyond their capacity. They suggested that my brother get another opinion. Terry worked in the legal department for Sprint in Overland Park and had a working relationship with the attorneys in Reston Virginia. One of these attorneys happened to be dating a doctor in neurology at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. She told her now fiancé about Terry. They were able to help. Terry never married and did not have children, so I became his power of attorney. Through providence I had Sabbatical time lined up while Terry was to have surgery, so Ken and I ended up spending a lot of time with him in Baltimore. But the first surgery was scheduled before Sabbatical began. I had to use vacation, but had every intention of preaching that Sunday. I was preparing my sermon from Terry’s hospital room, when his condition worsened and he spiked a fever of over 106. This was on a Friday. I called my Regional Minister, Rev. Lee Parker. He stepped in immediately as pastor for me and for my church. He preached for me with very short notice.
Terry successfully went through his surgeries. He was on the road to recovery, but at the end of January last year he had a cerebral hemorrhage and was medi-flown from Richmond where he was staying with Ken and I to Johns Hopkins. We rushed to be with him in ICU. Again I was writing my sermon from a hospital room when his condition worsened. Once more I called Lee, and once more he was pastor to me and the church. He stepped in with short notice to preach for me again. Sorrowfully, my brother did not survive that last incident and passed away 10 days later. His funeral was at First Christian in Newton. The Regional Minister for the Christian Church in Kansas, Rev. Paxton Jones, came to Terry’s funeral. When I returned to Virginia, Lee co-officiated the memorial service at Seventh Street Christian Church for my brother.
This is what it means for me when the region serves as pastor to the pastors and the churches, and I am very grateful to the regions of both Kansas and Virginia for the care given to me and to my family and my former church in a time of acute crisis. And I am grateful for this offering that supports the ministry of the Regions. It truly matters.
Grace and Peace,