Dear Church Family,
In the sermon this coming Sunday, we will be looking at Galatians 4:12-20 where the Apostle Paul examines and questions the relationship between himself and the believers in Galatia. In this section, we see Paul’s pastoral heart, and his desire for a peaceful and fruitful relationship to continue between himself and those in the churches that he has planted. The ultimate goal of his labors is that Christ would be formed in them – that they would be conformed not to his image, but to the image of Christ, Himself (v 19).
As I’ve been reflecting on this passage, I’ve naturally been driven to reflect on my relationship, as the pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church (PPC), with you all. Beginning to minister as the pastor at the beginning of October 2012, I have been in this role at PPC for almost seven months now. As part of this reflection, I have also gone back and reread the letter that I sent to you all back in August 2012, which I wrote in response to receiving the call to come and be your pastor.
Upon rereading that letter, I discovered that the good things that I initially learned and experienced in coming to visit PPC last summer are still true. In fact, the reality of the grace of God at work among the members and families of PPC has only become more apparent over the course of the last several months. Sometimes friends and family, or other ministers in our presbytery will ask, “So, how’s it going in Midland?” To which I respond by telling them of how gracious, generous, kind, and welcoming are the people in the church. How the church was growing even as I arrived, with people waiting to join. I boast in the elders of PPC, and how all the people of the congregation delight in hearing God’s Word read, preached, and taught.
Rereading that letter from last summer was also good reminder to me of the promises which I made to you all at that time, which I reiterate to you today. And, where I have come up short, I thank you for your grace, patience, and understanding. Thank you for making my first six months here an easy transition and a continuing growth in joy in the ministry for myself and my family. What I said last August, is still true today: it was a ‘no-brainer’ for us to make the decision to come to PPC here in Midland, and I thank God for His “Providence” (this church called Providence, and His providence in bringing us here). Now, without further ado, for this week’s ‘Pastoral Reflection,’ below is that letter in its entirety.
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch
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August 13, 2012
To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Providence Presbyterian Church in Midland, Texas. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thank you for your trust and confidence in calling me to be the pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church (PPC). In the process of seeking a call to the pastorate, I have had a hope and idea – perhaps even an ideal – of the kind of church that would be a perfect fit. That hope began to be realized when I first read the informational document prepared by the pulpit committee. PPC was described in these four ways: Confessionally Reformed, Deep Personal Congregational Devotion, Culturally Diverse, and Warmly Hospitable. As I interacted with the pulpit committee, I began to learn more about the congregation, and the priorities of the church. And, upon visiting and interacting with you all (if only for a short time), that hope of the ideal fit began to take on flesh.
In that informational document prepared by the pulpit committee, one of the phrases used to describe Midland was that the city “enjoys a delightful climate.” Whether or not that is true remains to be seen, I suppose; however, Stacie and I have found this to be spiritually true of the church: the people of Providence Presbyterian Church enjoy a delightful climate, basking in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. I look forward to getting to know everyone better in the congregation and the privilege of leading the church in worship and the ministry of the Word.
For my part, I promise to guard both myself and my teaching, to persevere in the public reading of Scripture, exhortation, and teaching, and in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, to show myself to be an example of those who believe (1 Timothy 4:11-16). I will endeavor to labor among you in gentleness, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children; I will endeavor to labor among you devoutly, uprightly, and blamelessly, exhorting, encouraging, and imploring just as a father would his own children (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12). As I seek to be an under-shepherd of the Good Shepherd, I commit to praying for each one of you and your families. Please pray for me and my family.
In general, I believe the biblical mission of each and every particular church may be summarized in this way: “To proclaim and extol the name of Jesus Christ, our King and Savior, as we nurture and grow faithful disciples and ambassadors of the kingdom of God, in order to expand His rule and reign through the gathering and perfecting of the saints.” This mission is accomplished in the three priorities of the corporate life of the church: worship, discipleship, and evangelism. I am grateful and praise God for the faithfulness of PPC in this regard, and look forward to joining with you.
Now to some specifics. We are in the process of purchasing a home in Midland, and anticipate moving sometime near the end of September. The details of our move are still being worked out, but we are trying to make the move as soon as possible. In coordination with the elders of the session and the North Texas Presbytery (NTP), I also anticipate that a commission of the NTP will hold an installation service at PPC sometime in October.
Before closing this letter, I want to express my gratitude to the entire congregation for making this process so simple and easy. I don’t mean that only with respect to the many practical aspects of the search and call process, but also with respect to the decision-making process. You all have made accepting the call to come as the pastor of PPC an easy decision to make. It has been, as they say, a ‘no-brainer’ for me and my family! We are particularly grateful for the hospitality of the two families (Greg & Rachel Berkhouse and Jerry & Cindy Walton) who hosted Stacie and me on our two visits to Midland for our candidating and house-hunting visits.
Finally, I am grateful for the elders of the church: Greg Eddings, Reed Gilmore, and Greg Berhouse. Providence Presbyterian Church is blessed to have men of such caliber to shepherd and guard the flock. I have been impressed by their love for the church, theological acumen, moderation, and wisdom. Stacie and I were able to worship and partake of the Lord’s Supper with these three men on Friday night at the NTP worship service, and then spend some time with them at the presbytery meeting on Saturday. It was a thrill for me to share these experiences with these brothers, and I look forward to co-laboring with them in the ministry of the gospel at PPC.
- Peter M. Dietsch
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