The morning of Sunday the 16th dawned on the congregation of Kirkville Community Church with unexpected expectation. For our neighbors and co-workers it was another Sunday morning, but this morning the church was passing a baton. One last chance the people could have to hear Pastor Kelvin stand behind the pulpit and proclaim the Word of God. One last time the people would hear his wife fill the sanctuary with her music. And one last time the people could worship God with an old friend who is moving away.
The attention was strong. There was not one sleepy eye or deaf ear in the well-packed pews. The service was unlike any other. After a few songs of praise the children gathered around Pastor up on by the pulpit to send him off with their prayers of thanksgiving and blessings. Others including myself were a fortunate group to have been raised under the Pastor’s full influence since our childhood. There was a sense of pity I had for those children who would not have the benefit we had when we were young. I never realized how much an impact Pastor Kelvin had on my life. After every sermon my Dad, brother and I would pack into the farm van (or truck, whatever vehicle that was not broken that week) and discuss Pastors sermon. How well was it? Did it stay faithful the text? What would you have done? What did you like most etc.? And during all those conversations I did not know what it would do for my own ministry. Today, when I prepare for my sermons I constantly reflect upon these conversations and my Pastors sermons. This now frequently happens subconsciously.
Everyone has their own story. We all learned from his humility.
Moving on will be the hard part. How can anyone package anyone’s ministry of 22 years in a short sermon? In the minds of the people in the congregation Kirkville Church was almost synonymous with Kelvin’s ministry. Maybe it was his smile, the relaxed expression, or something deeper. His humble heart and patience that helped pave the years of unceasing proclamation. Through trials and difficulties by the grace of God working in our Pastor our Church concluded with his ministry there a success. Not a success in the eyes of the world like a large church attendance or overwhelming prosperity. It was a success of a much greater value. A value that cannot be measured with graphs or data charts or any instrument of measurement for that matter but it was a value that will only be seen in eternity.
The last sermon was both appropriate and fitting. It came from Deuteronomy 31:1-8 when Moses stepped down and gave the leadership to Joshua. From the beginning the message crescendo to its climax: be strong and courageous in the Lord because the Lord is with us. The closing soon followed with a liturgy then the final passing of the keys of the church to Pastor Eric. In addition, a Bible was given to him that symbolized the Pastors role of devout study in the Word. He was also given a towel. It was not a special towel in fact it was just an ordinary kitchen rag. This could only symbolize one thing; a servant attitude clothed in humility and weakness is the only way to lead.