I know there is no such thing as a perfect church, but I honestly believe the Lord has directed my wife and me to the closest thing this side of heaven. We celebrated the twentieth anniversary of its founding today, and I wish I had adequate words to describe it. Our founding pastor spoke about how the church got its start with only sixteen people, and how they met in a machine shop until they could eventually build a small building. If you have ever seen a machine shop, you know that there are metal shavings, and oil spots everywhere. Every week, someone would clean up the shop so that the teens could roll out the carpet and set up the chairs for Sunday's services.
The new building could seat about one hundred, and by the time my wife and I joined the fellowship in 1993, the average attendance was already about sixty, with an overflow crowd for special events. Sunday school space had already been made inadequate, and so we built a wing with several classrooms. Today, Sunday school classes meet in the machine shop, the home attached, the store building, the sanctuary, two in the balcony, and the rest are full. We need more room. Praise the Lord for such a wonderful problem!
We have hired two new "associate ministers" to help our pastor. He had been doing "it all" and was becoming overwhelmed with ministering to over two hundred, plus weddings, funerals, and counseling for the members and their extended families. I had about sixty when I pastored and it was enough to keep me very busy; I can't imagine trying to take care of such a large ministry.
We spent last year asking everyone to do their best at giving above and beyond their tithe, in order to pay the mortgage down and reduce our monthly payments. We paid over half of the mortgage off in one year, raising $200,000! Our pastor and his wife reduced their salary by about one thousand dollars a month in order to set an example, and to do as they felt the Lord directing. Not only is he a remarkable, dedicated servant of the Lord, he is the most biblically correct teacher I have had the privilege of following.
Today, we had a dinner with about three hundred (my guess) which included past members who returned to celebrate with us. We opened a time capsule and watched videos of our church when today's leadership was still in grade school. It was good to remember those of whom we are jealous because they are with Jesus. It was good to see the many who have been faithful for so many years; they are an inspiration. It was wonderful to eat from the table loaded with at least one hundred dishes of almost every kind of food. So many worked so hard to make the day a lasting memory.
One last thing that I am proud to say about our church. Last Wednesday, we had our annual business meeting with a new budget, several amendments to our church's constitution, and nominations for elders and deacons. The vote was unanimous on everything! How many churches can say that they have such harmony in the Spirit? Unfortunately, not many. We are so very blessed and thankful to God! Praise the Lord!