Two Berryton Buffaloes

On Monday, we enrolled our children in First and Second Grade at Berryton Elementary School. While we have driven by the building, this was our very first time inside. We filled out all the papers, received a quick tour of the building and found their classrooms. It was another milestone in our season of transition and putting down roots in the community.

I am looking forward to being close to their school. The property of Berryton United Methodist Church and Berryton Elementary are adjoining and the building and playground are clearly visible from my office window. Also, the congregation has developed a partnership of support and care over the years. I am looking forward to the year ahead!

Reflection on My Time at First UMC El Dorado

Last Sunday there was a farewell event for our family after the 11 a.m. worship service. It was a wonderful time – heartfelt thanks, earnest wishes, and blessings were shared from one to the other. I shared a few things to those that were there and share them with you here.

Thumbnail Sketch

If I were to give a thumbnail sketch of my time as the preacher at First UMC El Dorado, this is what it would be:

As the preacher at First UMC El Dorado, I led the congregation to design and execute a multi-year strategic plan which resulted in the development of a discipleship pathway to more deeply engage people in the life of faith, a capital campaign for 1.75 times our annual operating budget to renovate of our 1920s era sanctuary, and increased our organizational health through volunteer and staff development.

Clearly this is written in the most positive light, yet I believe it captures some of the most significant highlights of ministry over the last six years.

Three Memorable Days as Pastor

Sunday, August 12, 2012

We had just arrived to town and our daughter, Anne, was a few months old. It was time for her baptism. My father, Mark Conard, baptized her during worship. Baptism is a significant moment in the life of a family and this was particularly meaningful because my father was able to officiate. I remember watching him walk her down the aisle to show the congregation and the love and care in his voice as offered God’s grace in the act of baptism. It was a meaningful day in the life of our family.

Final Week of October 2016

My father died on October 18, 2016. As we were with family during the days that followed, someone from the Staff Parish team asked what would be helpful for us. I sometimes struggle with asking for things, though in this case I managed to say that basics around the house would be helpful for us – mowing the lawn and cleaning a bit inside our house. I remember pulling back into El Dorado after my dad’s service of death and resurrection and graveside service – the lawn looked great. When we walked inside our home was fresh and clean. The care and love that these simple acts demonstrated was overwhelming.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Near the end of the school year, I received an email from one of the staff at Skelly Elementary School that they had something for me in the office. So, when I picked up my son, John, from Kindergarten I went into the office and was greeted with boxes filled with May Baskets! We had launched our partnership with the school at the beginning of the year. This was an amazing gift and a symbol that the partnership between our congregation and the school was taking shape. There was both mutual interest and effort to be a blessing to one another.

Three Things I received during Pastorate

Space to Become a Preacher

When I arrived, I had preached less than ten times in my entire life. The practice of weekly preaching was foreign and intimidating. This congregations has provided the opportunity to learn how to be a preacher. There are some moments in preaching where my internal monologue is wondering “What am I saying?” as I continue to preach and I have taken away 15 minutes you can’t get back in your life. Other Sundays, hopefully more, I have felt used by God to share a word of encouragement, conviction, and vision. I am grateful for space to become a preacher.

Grace Offered in My Leadership

While I like to think otherwise, I know that not every idea that I have had in ministry has been great. There have been days that I have fallen down on the job as your pastor. Throughout my time here, the overarching response to my ministry has been a willingness to follow and discover together where God is leading us. I have learned what it means to be a pastoral leader in this place. I am grateful for grace offered in my leadership.

Gray Hair

I still remember when my hairdresser noted so gracefully, “It looks like your hair is losing some of it’s color. Do you want to do anything to address that?” I said, “No.” So, here I am at the end of my time here with much less color in my hair than I had six years ago.

2010 #kswumc – Zimbabwe Partnership

Yesterday I focused a lot of my energy around the covenant between the Kansas West and Zimbabwe East Annual Conferences. It was my responsibility to pull together the team that shared stories of the trip and presented the legislation. While not speaking, I probably got more anxious than was strictly necessary trying to corral the effort. It went great. Wonderful stories and testimonies shared, excellent video production, good discussion from the floor and in the end a unanimous approval. Following the presentation was the Taste of Zimbabwe dinner. I cooked up some of the vegetables over lunch break during conference and served sadza and rice during the meal. Bishop Nhiwatiwa spoke just the right amount and was encouraging, insightful and funny. I have found his words meaningful every time that he has addressed a group of which I have been a part.

A few other highlights from yesterday:

  • Starting off the day with a presentation of Godspell
  • Responding to Wesley’s historic questions in front of the annual conference along with the others to be ordained tonight.
  • Hearing the stories of the retirees in their own words at the retirement service last night. Especially, my Aunt Karen Osterman Fieser as she retired from over 25 years as a chaplain at Wesley Medical Center.
  • Meaningful conversations with various colleagues throughout the day.

It is good to be here.

Kansas West Delegation to Zimbabwe

Next week, Nicole and I will travel to the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference as part of a delegation from the Kansas West Annual Conference. This trip was first announced in this article from the Kansas West website – Local churches invited to support Zimbabwe partnerships. On the trip, I hope to build relationships with the people of Zimbabwe, listen to stories, look for opportunities in ministry and pray continually. One of the key questions, that was affirmed by a conversation today with the Director of Mission Minstries at Resurrection today is this:

How might a partnership be formed with the outcome of healthier local churches in both Zimbabwe and Kansas?

Resurrection and Grand Avenue Temple – Easter Worship

Resurrection partnered with Grand Avenue Temple United Methodist Church in downtown Kansas City for Easter worship. Very cool stuff going on in this partnership. You can watch coverage from a local news station here.

Thanks to Jason Gant for finding the story.