We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.
As part of the one body of Christ we welcome all to the Lord’s Table as God has welcomed us.
—2008 Identity Statement, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
I must confess it is difficult for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I am writing the first pastor’s column of my second year serving alongside you in ministry at First Christian Church of Morehead, KY. Time has passed strangely these last 12 months. Some of you I have met with weekly on Zoom over the past 12 months. We’ve shared in communion together in weekly vespers. Others have gathered virtually for film festival discussions during Advent and Lent. We’ve held Lenten tea time conversations on Monday afternoons and monthly book study discussions. I’ve joined with a wonderful group of women for Tuesday night Bible studies. These gatherings have been rich and meaningful. I’ve learned much about you, and you have gotten to know me (and my dog Stoney) through these conversations. And now we are carefully coming back together for in person gatherings, for Sunday worship and for planning meetings. In person gatherings means we have the chance to get to know one another in those wonderfully normal, everyday conversations that happen in those informal moments, before worship begins or after a meeting is concluded.
As with any new relationship we’ve been adjusting to one another. I’m learning some of your favorite traditions and practices, finding commonalities and differences with my experiences in other Disciples congregations. And in turn, you’re getting used to my leadership style, the priorities I bring to my calling as a pastor, and the gifts I have to offer. These past twelve months have been a time of learning and growth for all of us. I’m grateful for the hospitality you’ve shown me and for the graciousness of all of the leaders and volunteers of this congregation as we’ve navigated these challenging days.
This next year is overflowing with possibilities. Our church leadership will face many choices on how best to live faithfully together. Faithful decision making takes time and intention, and is always rooted in the spiritual practice of prayerful discernment. Thank goodness the work of the church is not a sprint; it’s not even a marathon (with a nod to the Apostle Paul), we are called to a lifelong pilgrimage of faith. As we plan together our next steps, we’ll reflect on where God has been with us in the past, and listen for where the Spirit is leading us now. And we’ll hold before us the vision and rich tradition and the present calling of this congregation, reflecting on how these familiar words can guide our path forward:
We are Disciples….
We reach out and within.
We prepare God’s table for all, as it was prepared for us.
We embrace the old, the heartsick, the outcast, the different.
We believe Love wins.
We have a clear sense we are on a journey in the right direction and we’re on the journey together….
We are Disciples.
With great hope and anticipation,
A native of Illinois, Rev. Nancy Gowler lived for 26 years in the Pacific Northwest. She joined the ministry of First Christian Church in Morehead, KY, in July of 2020.