I marked my first anniversary as Saint Paul’s regularly-called pastor on April 14, 2017. I did this quietly because that day was Good Friday. I would, however, like to take this little space to share my thoughts and observations on this occasion.
When a new pastor starts in a congregation, there is usually a “honeymoon” period, which can last anywhere from six months to two years. This is a time when everyone is on their best behavior, the feeling of goodwill is palpable, mistakes (which the new pastor is bound to make) are either overlooked entirely and, when they are noticed, are quickly forgotten.
I was having coffee with a colleague recently and I shared that we were at the one-year point in this relationship at Saint Paul’s. My colleague asked, “So, do you think the honeymoon is over?” I hadn’t thought about that until asked. And, as far as I can tell, mostly everyone is still really enjoying this relationship. So, my response to my colleague was, “No.”
This also gave me the time to think about what I have observed during the past year. Here are some of my observations, which are in no particular order.
Social ministry—which is a willingness to stand up and be counted while staying informed about current issues in government and society especially when people are denied their basic rights or are victims of injustice—is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of being the church. (That definition borrows heavily from a document Pastor Gifford wrote for Saint Paul’s Congregation Council in 1989.) Yet, it is important to being relevant. Deciding what that can look like is a very important task for our future.
Evangelism is a challenge for Saint Paul’s, just as it is for many congregations. What is important to remember is that evangelism depends on Saint Paul’s being a warm and welcoming place where everyone who comes to any event—particularly a worship service—at Saint Paul’s receives a warm and hospitable welcome. The Congregation Council has agreed that there are ways to address this, so that we will be working together on that.
Worship is the most visible thing we do as a congregation, yet there are many conflicting opinions around this important aspect of our ministry. These are questions we will not answer swiftly or easily. This is especially true since the demographics of Catasauqua are changing. The United States Census indicates that fewer White families with small children are moving into Catasauqua. Different people will value different things in worship. This makes it crucial that everyone be willing to share what makes worship meaningful to them and how we can best use the gifts God has given us to welcome more and more people into this wonderful place that is Saint Paul’s.
The bottom line is that, while the honeymoon can’t reasonably last forever, I continue to love my call here at Saint Paul’s and I believe that—because of God’s help—good things are happening in this congregation. As that continues, we invite God to grant us wisdom and patience and courage as we discern the course on which God has placed us and then follow it. I look forward to being a part of that work for many years to come.
Pastor Scott Paradise
If you or someone you know is admitted into the hospital, it is very important to notify the church as soon as possible. You can do this by either
calling the church office directly at 610-264-3221 or inform the hospital upon admittance that you are a member of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Catasauqua and they will list you under our Pastoral Code 312.
If you are admitted into a Rehabilitation facility, please inform the church office as well.
Do you have any good news in your family? Any news, exciting happenings? What do I mean - births, engagements, a new job, a great accomplishment for one of your family members. Tell us so we can celebrate with you. Good News is not for offering Thank you’s, rather it is an opportunity for you to let us know about the joyful things in your lives.
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