As of today, April 11 at 12:40 pm-ish, it has been 368 days and 40 minutes since you unanimously voted me as your next Senior Pastor.
We talk a lot about time; how fast it goes and if we had more of it. The thing about time is that it never really works in our favor. We never have enough of it or it goes by too slowly.
There are a few things that I can say about my time with you since April 8, 2018.
Let me just first say that God was and is in this process. Leaving the state that we had called home for almost our entire lives was not in the cards when my phone rang in September of 2017 with Rebekah Odenwald and Ken Tipton on the other line asking if we might consider a conversation with UBC’s Pastor Search Team. Yet as we conversed and dreamed, we discerned that God was calling us to Baton Rouge.
The fact remains that God is still in this process. God does not move in static moments in time only waiting for us to ask God to pick back up where we want God to get involved. God is at work within and around University Baptist Church. You can sense it as we gather for worship, as we form spiritually, as we engage in gatherings, as we explore new like-interest connections, as we engage in our love for neighbor.
Our family has built a new home in Baton Rouge. This feeling of comfort and settledness would not have been possible without your hospitality, love, and continued care.
I have taken great joy in my work. I get to partner with a brilliant staff of ministers that care deeply about the Kingdom of God and this faith community.
I get to learn from the extraordinary leadership of this church in various boards, committees, and ministries.
I am humbled and honored to serve as your pastor. I am continually amazed that the Pastor Search Team distinguished that Andy Hale was the best fit from all of the great candidates applying for this role. I am truly grateful for your vote in confidence one year ago.
My hope is that sense of togetherness continues as we journey forward into what God is and will be doing in and through UBC. My focus for the last year has been to create opportunities to foster the existing community and bolster new forms of community with UBC. In short, you’ve bought into this vision and you can feel it as we interact with one another.
Not only will we continue to mature our focus on authentic community through structured and organic opportunities to connect, but we are going to relentlessly discover new ways to connect with our neighbors. While we hope to see new faces in our Sunday worship experience, we also want to see new faces interact with Connect Groups, English Conversations, Church-Wide Gatherings, Family Tree Café, MDO, as well as the Arts and Soccer Academy.
We want to equip and empower you to be the presence of Jesus in this community through your friendships, workplaces, and intentional interactions with others.
We are putting a premium on spiritual formation. Not only are we looking to hire a staff role to focus on spiritual formation, but we want to bolster our existing discipleship opportunities while creating new opportunities.
I want UBC to be known as a faith community that creatively discerns who Jesus is, into what he has invited us, and how his message should be applied today. I want us to be known as a faith community that loves the Lord. I invite you to join me as we seek to grow deeper and wider in our faith journey.
The great author Paulo Coelho wrote, “Don't waste your time with explanations: people only hear what they want to hear.” Let me affirm and amend this statement: Don’t waste your time with explanations, let us get busy acting on what we are hearing from God.