April 2022 Message from Rev. Coplin
It is presumptuous to imagine that I can simply reach for my keyboard and write something that will be of significant use to you until the next month. So, I have begun to just draw on some of our interactions over prior weeks. As we sit and visit or work along side one another in ministry, I recognize the honor I have in hearing some of your stories and learning of some of the struggles you face.
I oftentimes have no direct experience with what you are working through. But the common thread I am finding among many of these stories, a thread which weaves through my own story of the past few months, is change. In the past ten months, I graduated, transplanted my family 853 miles from our home, left church, friends, and job, began a new career, and have had to adjust to considerable strain on our family due to health issues. So while I cannot claim the wisdom necessary to speak into your particular struggle, I do know something about the inevitability of change and the uncertainty it produces.
While meeting with several Louisiana UMC pastors a few weeks ago, I heard many stories of change there as well. They spoke about culture and communities moving away from regular church attendance. They spoke about congregations aging and dwindling. They spoke about diminished giving, facilities in need of attention, and the simmering denominational dilemma. They spoke about Covid and how it has accelerated all of the above. Many pastors have taken early retirement, or have walked away from ministry, or plan on taking sabbatical starting in July. You see, the strain of these changes is felt not just within our congregation, but throughout our connection. And when our people are most needing the comforts of things familiar, it seems most unfortunate that we are facing so many changes in our church at this time. Yet, it is not a question of if we will change, but how we will navigate it.
I am truly thankful that we have one another to make our way through these changes together, and to encourage one another to hold fast to the promise that while everything around us may change, God does not. I know you know this, but I will simply remind you: we serve a good God whose good pleasure it is to work all things for good.
In just two weeks time, we will gather, remember, and celebrate the first Easter morning. So, this is the time of year that reminds us that if our God can create life out of death itself, then God is able to make something good come from all the changes we are experiencing right now. While this truth does not necessarily make change easy and it certainly does not make it avoidable, it does make it worthwhile.
I look forward to seeing you at Holy Week.