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It's now been a year since I came to this church, and nearly two since my predecessor left.

It's been a good year. Attendance and giving have increased (following trends already in motion); the men's group shows encouraging signs of life; we're expanding our weekday program from half days to full days. And yesterday, one long-time member said she senses an attitude of caring here the likes of which she can't remember. She even said it publicly.

Then there's what happened at last month's fish fry. The emcee noted I had just bought a car shortly after a rather strident sermon on pledges and tithing. The audience was delighted. Carl Dudley of McCormick Seminary says you're accepted "when they start to tell stories on you." By the end of the evening, I could have used a little less acceptance.

One of God's blessings here has been a predecessor who has deliberately not "come back." Jim, if you're reading this from your new perch, know that I am grateful.

If a pastorate is like a marriage, then ...

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