It is a season of transition. I have had the opportunity to serve as the preacher at Berryton United Methodist Church since July 1, 2018. On Sunday, I announced during worship that I have received a new appointment from Bishop Ruben Saenz to serve as the pastor at Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church in Topeka beginning July 1, 2019. I will miss the good people of Berryton and am grateful for the care our family has received from both the church and community. I look forward to meeting the people of Susanna Wesley, learning more about the ministries, traditions, hopes, and dreams of the congregation, and continuing to reach the mission field with the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ. I am also looking forward to learning from Rev. Maria Campbell who has served Susanna Wesley faithfully these past seven years!
The Staff Parish team at Berryton UMC has been in conversation with our District Superintendent, Rev. Kay Scarbrough, about who will be appointed to serve as the next pastor. We will share that news when it is available. Will you take a moment to pray for our community, congregations, Bishop, District Superintendents and our family?
If you would like to get or stay connected with me, here are a few ways:
I am committed to making this transition in the best possible way, including saying goodbye, grieving, finding away in the “in-between” space, saying hello, and engaging new beginnings.
Today is my 32nd day as the preacher assigned to Berryton United Methodist Church. It has been a wonderful journey of learning, sharing, and welcome. I am so grateful for the warm welcome that we have received from the congregation and community. One of the ways that I have been learning about the congregation is something that I am calling 100 Conversations in 100 Days.
I hope to share a one-on-one conversation with 100 people so that I can hear their thoughts, feelings, and opinions about the church and community. My hope is to get this accomplished in my first 100 days, which gives me until October 8. As of today, I have four down and ninety-six to go. If you live in the Berryton area, would you be willing to share a conversation with me about the church? Visit www.calendly.com/AndrewConard and click on “100 Conversations” to set up a time to meet.
I have been updating and adapting questions from Eleven Questions for Getting to Know a New Congregation. Here is the original list:
- Tell me about a time when you felt especially proud of some members or leaders of your congregation, when you felt they were really following Christ. What makes this incident stand out in your mind?
- Whom do you especially respect as leaders? Why do you hold them in high regard?
- Tell me why you’re glad you are a member of this congregation. Why did you join this congregation instead of another one?
- How has being part of this congregation helped you and members of your family grow in faith? Please give me some examples of experiences or classes that made a difference. How did you change?
- Tell me a story about when congregation members resolved a conflict or difference effectively. What do you think the congregation learned from this experience? How effectively do leaders and members handle differences now?
- What have you especially valued about your pastors and other congregational staff? (Be specific.) Do any sermons, initiatives, or attributes of your previous pastors come to mind?
- Tell me about a time when you were disappointed with members or leaders. What happened?
- Complete this sentence: “God is calling this congregation to be …”
- What do you think God wants your congregation to emphasize in the next three to five years?
- What else do I need to know in order to thrive in this congregation and community?
- Do you have any other concerns or suggestions?
What strategies or techniques have you used to learn about the congregation and community in a new appointment?
United Methodist Elders are ordained to Word, Order, Sacrament, and Service. It seems that during times of transition Order is one that takes precedence. In both leaving and beginning, there are a almost innumerable number of administrative items that need to be cared for, passed on to others, or at least communicated in some way.
For example, upcoming weddings… There are two on the calendar for the fall in 2018 at First UMC El Dorado at which Rev. Mik King will officiate and one on the calendar for me at Berryton UMC at which I will officiate. These are an incredibly important day in the life of the couple and their families and they are ones for which the pastor has a great deal of responsibility to go well. So, contact information for the couple, helping make the transition – these details are important and need attention. When I arrived in El Dorado in 2012 I had a wedding scheduled in July. I am grateful that in each of these three cases they are later in the year.
There are also details that have to be attended to nearly immediately. July 1 is the first day of the appointive year and this year it also happens to be a Sunday. Worship happens every Sunday and each congregation has a variety of practices around how it is planned and executed, as well as a number of different associated items that need to be prepared in some way. These are important details that need to be attended to right away.
It is impossible to put together a comprehensive list – Where are the light switches? What happens on Christmas Eve? Who decorates the altar? Who purchases candles? Any number of things…
My personality is such that I try to attend every detail, as best as I am able. At times this is helpful and at others paralyzing. During these weeks, I am working on offering myself and others grace in the details.
Where have you found grace in the details? Either offered or received?
Last week, I worked with a representative of our moving company to get an estimate of how much our belongings weigh. We had the conversation over FaceTime and I went through every room in our house, garage, shed, backyard – everywhere – opening cabinets and describing what was there. The next day, I received an email detailing our possessions and providing an estimate of their weight.
It was fascinating and sobering. I was amazed at the inventory that was able to be completed in just a short time and the specificity with which the estimate was made. I was sobered by the realization that this was an estimate of the totality of things that we have in our home. All the stuff that we have accumulated in our life together as a family. Much of it with memories attached, some items of utility and somethings leaving us wondering – why in the world do we own that?
I hope that we will be able to shed some of this physical weight before the moving truck arrives on June 18. We are planning to join the neighborhood garage sale on June 1 and 2, so stop by 502 S. Denver Street if you are looking for some bargains. Of course, the things from Nicole’s office and mine will be added to the total weight. I wonder how much that will add …
The moving van may be full and our hearts will be full, as well. Our hearts and souls are filled with memories, experiences, and relationships that will last longer than much of what can be found in the boxes currently stacking up in our living room.
And those travel light.
So, once again it is time for me to start up my blog. It has, for the most part, languished for several years. The impetus to begin again is that it is transition time. I have been appointed to serve as the preacher at Berryton United Methodist Church beginning July 1. I will officially depart my role as preacher at First UMC El Dorado the day before, though we will have moved to Topeka several weeks before that. It has been a long road to this point and there is a long road ahead. All is well, though. God walks with our family and with the people Butler and Shawnee counties each day and will continue in the days ahead. If you would like to get or stay connected with me, there are a number of ways that I will suggest for you:
You can find my personal website and blog at www.AndrewConard.com. I have written on a wide variety of topics over the years and am going to work to get back in the habit.
This is a side project that I started at the beginning of 2018. It exists to share Bible verse images and videos that are encouraging, inspiring, and challenging. You can connect there in a variety of ways:
I have had intentions for some years to start a podcast. The latest iteration is Preacher Stories, which you can find here.
Of course, you can connect with me in a variety of ways on social media as well:
- Facebook Page – Professional stuff, bible verses, articles, and more.
- Twitter – Professional stuff, bible verses, articles, and more.
- Instagram – Photos, verse images, and more.
I took this photo over I-70 from my hotel room in Salina, Kansas. Several days later, I was adding keywords and titles and couldn’t immediately remember whether it was a sunrise or a sunset. I had to open the thumbnail to see the full image and pause to remember which direction I was facing.
This is a sunrise.
Someone who was familiar with Salina would be able to pretty easily determine whether this was the beginning or end of the day — whether it was dusk or dawn.
At times in our life, it can be difficult to determine whether a given event, happening or series of encounters represents a sunrise or sunset — the beginning or end of something.
Significant events in our life tend to be both endings and beginnings.
One month from today, I will begin serving as pastor at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado. Last week, I had the opportunity to spend time with some of the key leaders and staff from the church. I shared a document with everyone that I met outlined some of my personal priorities as well as top five objectives for the first six months and a few of the questions that I will be asking as I arrive. Here is what I shared:
Personal Priorities and Dates
- June 12 – Expecting the birth of our second child
- June 25 – Move into parsonage
- Care for self and family
Top Five – First Six Months
- Be a good guest and allow the congregation to host
- Love the people
- Learn the history and culture of the congregation
- Learn the history and culture of the community
- Help discern an appropriate vision
Questions – First Six Months
- Who are you as a congregation?
- How did the congregation get to where it is today?
- Where do challenges and opportunities exist?
- What has changed the most / least since you joined the church?
- When have you been most proud to be connected with this church?
- What means the most to you about this church?
- Why does this church matter to people?
- What do you sense God is doing right now?