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The Importance of Reaching Ernest

At the time, it seemed like my worst nightmare. I was newly ordained, called to a very rural two-point parish where the average age of the congregation was 65 or older. Cows and cornfields dotted the countryside and fueled the local economy. This was one of those places where the same names kept appearing on the mailboxes as you drove our narrow highway. Everyone was related in some way.

Families toiled side-by-side for generations, working the land, creating a community. But it was a way of life that was slowly dying, and with it my parish. This congregation was in decline longer than I had been alive. I was called to palliative care, and that seemed to be a waste of my gifts and energy. I should be a church planter, I thought. I shouldn't be stuck way out here in the boondocks. I was probably going to be their last pastor. I would be remembered as the kid who closed one of the oldest congregations in our denomination.

I put on a brave face. "Whereever God calls me to serve, I'll serve ...

July/August
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