Fifteen Years aready?

Thank you for the recognition and gift that you gave me on Sunday on the occasion of my 15th anniversary at Central. Who knew you would put up with me for so long?! It is an honor to have served with you in ministry in this place for this amount of time, among such amazing people!
The anniversary got me thinking about the beginning of my time at Central, and specifically, my move from northwest Arkansas to Indianapolis. In February of 2002, Terry Bradbury and Greg and Jerry Nickel drove to Arkansas to help me load a moving truck and drive back here.   It was an incredibly kind act that revealed to me a lot about this congregation I was coming to serve.
We drove in a little caravan, with me bringing up the rear in my purple pick-up truck with my dog Ripley.  We had a few adventures along the way.  There was the time I looked up and realized that I was no longer following the van but instead was staring at the back of a postal truck.  Oops!  At the next stop, the guys said they wondered what I was doing when all of a sudden I zoomed past them.  They learned, I suppose, that I’m not always good at following.
The real fun started when the moving truck broke down on the side of the highway about 50 miles from St. Louis. It was Super Bowl weekend and St. Louis happened to be in the Super Bowl. So we had trouble finding someone to tow us because everyone was watching the game. We finally made it to the rental company’s garage where after checking the truck’s engine we were told that they couldn’t fix it, but they would give us another truck instead. All we had to do was move my stuff from one truck to the other.  Um, no. Jerry made a fuss until they agreed to bring in some guys to do the heavy lifting. I was just a tad bit worried as all my earthly belongings were quickly shifted but fortunately most everything made it more or less intact (including the four of us).  I think we arrived in Indianapolis at around 4:00 in the morning.
Occasionally someone asks me how I have stayed this long in one congregation (I’ve heard that the average is now under four years).  I respond that while my location hasn’t changed, my work has changed and the congregation certainly has as well. Each year brings new people and new opportunities and challenges.  One experience I’ve NEVER had at Central is boredom. The experience I’ve ALWAYS had is that of a caring and compassionate group of people who treat their pastors well.  Thank you so much for that, and for the years to come!