As I enter my last month of being your pastor I can’t help but think about the last two years and the changes they have brought. My heart aches as I remember the phone call shortly after I arrived that church member Dale Dennison had died in a terrible accident. There have been others who have passed, including Selma Knueve. Selma made a big impact on our congregation even though she wasn’t able to attend worship in several years. She made lots of baked goods for our ‘goodie sale’ and the mission trips to Henderson Settlement. She was also a BIG reason Marble reached its financial commitment to Habitat for Humanity - every friend, family member and person who entered her home was asked if they could help! She has left us the challenge of meeting that commitment without her — I know you CAN do it.
Many of the other changes over my time with you have come out of the ministry plan you accepted the May before I came as your pastor. These include updated web-site and Facebook pages, a new vision statement, a new format for our weekly worship bulletin, more intentional follow up with our guests, which was made easier with our new connection cards, decluttering of the church building, painting around the church and a ‘make over’ of our lounge (which is consistently said by guests to be a warm, welcoming room) with better quality coffee served during gathering time. We are also being more intentional about our ministries meeting the needs of our community. All of this has been to meet our vision statement of being “Inviting people, living the love of Christ”. That, alongside our mission statement, “Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” is why we exist! Yes, there are people who are no longer worshipping with us at Marble because of these changes. While their absence is noted at Marble, I pray that God’s love, mercy and comfort be made known to all and that they have or will found a home in a community of faith.
A big change in my life over these two years has been the death on earth of my mom last July 3. I am so thankful for the love, support and care you provided me and my family during this past year as we adjusted to this new phase of our lives. I really appreciate the many of you knowing grief is not done in a few days or months and have continued to listen and support me over this year. There was also the added challenge of my dad’s accident which broke a bone in his neck. I am happy to report he is doing well! I know he will miss you too! He did say “A new place to visit” after I told him I was moving.
Other changes include the recent ‘retirement’ of Mike Williams as our Director of Music. Mike has served God through Marble in this position for many years. He also served for many of those years as Director of Christian Education. Thankfully, Mike and his wife Laurie will remain in the congregation. I suspect he will be found upstairs running the audio/visual system at least occasionally. :-) Be sure to see elsewhere in this newsletter words about our new Director of Music, Justin Murray - and a big thank you to Mike for working with Justin to teach him the ‘ropes’ of this position!
Of course, many changes have come as a result of the coronavirus. I am so thankful to our congregation’s leaders as well as our district, conference and the general UMC, for the support and leadership they have provided to help us minister in ways we never thought we would have to do! I am also thankful to you as a congregation for the support and graciousness as we have adapted, quickly, to this new way of ministry. A group focused on what we need to do to be able to come together in our building is scheduled to meet Saturday, May 30. I don’t know when a return to in- person worship will happen but it will happen eventually. Watch for information about future worship services but until then find us on our Facebook page!
The relationships I have built with you over the last two years will be a part of me for the rest of my life. I am struck by how quickly deep friendships can form. I think that was enhanced by what we have experienced so much during this time. I hope you will feel free to stop when you are in the Upper Peninsula! You can even come up north on a mission trip!! (But keep supporting Henderson Settlement!) We can talk about family and friends but I will talk about Marble Memorial UMC’s leadership.
Having worked with you, including several people who have started attending services and are now a part of Marble, for these two years, and having had the pleasure of meeting both your new pastor and your new Director of Music, I am excited for you and the ministry that will happen through Marble! God will truly use you as “Inviting People, Living the Love of Christ” as you “Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World”. You do have to be open to what God wants and that is not always easy but you can do it!
I am your pastor through June. My last Sunday is June 14. I know your Staff Parish Relations Committee will provide meaningful worship the last two Sundays of June. My movers will load me on June 23. Pastor Matt will move in June 25 and be your pastor July 1.
Until then ... See you Sunday – on-line!
Pastor Jackie Roe