Our New Worship Pastor and Other Divine Provisions
This Sunday we are going to have a lot to celebrate. It's a new year, the beginning of a new season, and we are going to enjoy a nice relaxing service where we can soak up the goodness of God as a way to kick off the year. But, you will also notice something else new; Pastor Shannon is now leading us in worship.
If you've been following closely you will know that Hilary, our previous worship team leader who has served us a a part time staff member since 2018, is stepping down due to their family moving to Wellsville where her husband Nic (one of our BOA members) serves at the Library Director. Hilary's day-job as a freelance editor gives her flexibility to where she can work, but having to drive the hour up from Wellsville multiple days a week would have been a bit too much. We are grateful that the Gunnings will remain an active part of our church family despite the position change and we will spend some time this Sunday thanking Hilary for all she has done for our community during this exceptionally challenging season.
Many of you may have been wondering what will happen next, and you can rest assured that our worship experience will continue to grow. Pastor Shannon, our new Conference Ministerial Candidate, or CMC (read more about that here) has a passion for worship and will be taking the reigns of our worship experience with theologically rich and emotionally vibrant leadership. This Sunday will be her first day "officially" on the job 5hrs per week as our new "Worship Pastor".
If you noticed that "Worship Pastor" is new language then well done, you were paying attention. We used to refer to Hilary as our Worship Leader as her responsibility was to lead the band and congregation in worship, but Pastor Shannon, who has a MDiv. from Northeastern Seminary will also be serving as a staff pastor along with her leadership of the band. For her, this is wonderful experience in her pursuit of the calling God has placed on her life, but for us, this is a direct answer to prayer.
You see, back in May we talked about wanting to hire a full-time associate pastor, but unfortunately it didn't work out from a financially nor in the search process. But God has ways of providing just what we need right when we need it. You see, shortly after our associate pastor search fell through and we saw that, at the time, we couldn't afford a full-time staff member anyway, Hilary announced their move. We were without extra pastoral teamwork for me, without anyone to lead our teens, and soon to be without a worship leader. To be honest, I was starting to worry a little, and the Pastor's Cabinet, BOA and I were in prayer for God to show us what to do next.
But then I get an e-mail from an old seminary friend (Pastor Shannon) who had moved to Nunda during the pandemic and she said she would like to meet because she thought The Spirit was drawing her to come to Valley Chapel and she wanted to see if we were sensing the same thing. Turns out she has a passion for music ministry and is looking for opportunities to serve a congregation since they had not found a church since moving.
Music-check, Pastor-check, but what about the teens? Well around the same time the Spirit started moving in the hearts of Becky Noon and Bonnie Kirkland to start a youth group. Both came up to be at separate times with the idea and they were eager to work together to start something up. Becky is now leading a team of 6 volunteers and they are already helping our teens feel equipped for the work of ministry! Teens-check. The Lord has provided, praise the Lord.
God is doing a new thing here at Valley Chapel. Transforming us into a community through whom his love flows, and it is an absolute joy to be a part of. Which is part of why we will be starting this new year off with sabbath, simply resting in what God has made and breathing in deeply of his love and provision for our community. Let's take time to thank those who have served us so faithfully, take time to notice the presence of God, and take time to draw closer to the God who provides just what we need right when we need it.