July Message from Rev. Coplin

In the summer of 2014, Monica and I discerned what we believe to be a call into full-time vocational ministry in the United Methodist Church. Within a week, I was registered for Fall Semester at Asbury Theological Seminary. The plan would be for me to keep working full-time at my job as a Speech-Language Pathologist at Monroe City Schools while taking courses online, part-time. In the meantime, we planned a visit to campus for new student orientation so that we could get away and gain a sense of connection with my new school. Though we had a well-laid plan, as we began to meet classmates and tour the campus, we both felt a pull toward something else. I can remember the very spot on our tour (between the library and statue of John Wesley) where Monica looked at me and said what I was thinking: “Are we supposed to live here?”

The rest of our time that day was talking about how ridiculous it seemed to move at that particular time in our lives. We had two young kids, a small business, and lived close to family. Monica had challenging work and I loved what I was doing. Life was good, yet we were considering leaving it all to move to this tiny town of Wilmore, KY. We put the question off as we made our way into Estes Chapel for a final worship service before heading back home. Looking back, I don’t remember much of that service other than hearing our eventual friend and Dean of Chapel preach for the first time. Her opening words were, “God is calling you to move.” I guess we were a little more literal in those days, because we took it to heart as a sign that this conversation was not over.

After returning to Louisiana and committing to weeks of prayer, our next few months were dedicated to selling our home, tying up loose ends, and making the move to be in-person, full-time for Fall 2015. We left for Wilmore with some savings and no income. Many of our friends, some church friends included, thought we had lost touch with reality. With the benefit of hindsight, of course it’s easy to see God’s provision along the way. In realtime, however, many days were either hard work, or one more step into the unknown, or both. Yet, I would have a hard time naming all of the coincidences, occurrences of perfect timing, and people that would come along to guide, provide, and befriend us. Moving was a risk, but it was the best thing our family had ever done.

And so I write to you now from your Pastor’s Study, thankful for God’s provision of a new town, a good home, kind neighbors, warm hospitality, and genuine excitement for what lies ahead. You probably already know that excitement is a rare thing in the Church today, particularly in the UMC. There are many concerns, unanswered questions, and a lot of grief. Yet, God is moving. This is why I am reminded of our previous moving story. Because while something big is happening for us, something bigger than us is happening as well. Do you sense it?

Nothing big happens without disruption. This can be disorienting, sad, scary, or all of the above. Though I cannot picture clearly what God is doing during this chaotic time, I believe that with some hindsight, we will celebrate God’s provision along the way. In the meantime, I know Scripture demonstrates God’s character as steadfast, always working for his people and through his people. Friends, I believe that God is calling us to move, and is assuring us of his blessing the whole way through. Our move to Many has been a good one, and I deeply appreciate the kindness and delight y’all have demonstrated in receiving my family.

But the excitement for what God is doing is much bigger stuff! If we are to respond faithfully, it will take all of us working together to pray, to support our leadership, to discern, and to watch for God’s leading. I am greatly encouraged to know that many of you sense a stirring as well. If we follow through, there will be many days ahead that will either be hard work, or one more step into the unknown, or both. I for one am ready to do my part. May God bless you and keep you and make his face to shine upon you in the days and weeks ahead.

In Christ, Brian

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