There and Back Again: A Pastor's Tale, Part One
"The Road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow, if I can, pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien
I am really excited - and fairly amazed - to be able to share with you the news that I will be returning with my family to Kansas City, Missouri, in mid-July, 2011. I have accepted an invitation to be the primary teaching pastor at Jacob's Well Church, a new role that has been created since I departed in August 2009. I will assume my responsibilities sometime later in the summer.
Jacob's Well made this announcement on Sunday, January 23, at each of their three worship gatherings. You can read the statement here. Likewise, Laidlaw College announced my plans to the community here as simultaneously as possible. In fact, I'd liked to express my gratitude to all who helped coordinate the release of this news in a way that honored both communities - no small task given the distance that separates New Zealand and Kansas City in time (19 hours and a day ahead) and space (7800 miles) and the connectivity that instantaneously dissolves such distance in the socially-networked virtual world we now inhabit.
I am certain this news comes as quite a surprise to many who are reading this, or heard the announcement when it was first made. To you I say, "Me, too!" For those who are interested, over the next couple of days I will share some of the background of this story, as well as how this new chapter has come about...
But for now, let me say two things. First, I could not be more excited or humbled by the opportunity to return to Jacob's Well in this newly imagined capacity. That I have such an opportunity overwhelms me and once more demonstrates God's enormous goodness and generosity to me through his people - in particular, the people of Jacob's Well Church. I am grateful to once again be able to serve God as a part of this community. Second, I am equally grateful for the opportunity that I have had to live in New Zealand and work at Laidlaw College and beyond. The range of people who have welcomed my family to this amazing land and befriended us while here have made immigrating to "the ends of the earth" much easier than it should have been. We will leave dear friends, beloved and respected colleagues, and compelling work behind when we depart these beautiful shores for home.