As we said our good-byes over communion this morning, the 2006 edition of the Young Urban Pastors gathering moved into a new time. More of a covenant group now than one solely about urban ministry, it is clear that this is a group that is needed for all of our personal renewal. This renewal is not just about a renewal of our own spirits, but a renewal of the church through the ministry we hope to live out.
As I reflect on the past four days I give thanks to this group for what it gives to me. For good or bad, I am extremely possessive about this group as a place where I can show up, folks know my story, hold me accountable and I can be renewed for the joy-filled, but challenging work of the church.
While I will stop short of singing Micheal W. Smith’s "Friends" I do want to publicly offer my thanks for to my sisters and brothers in Christ. If it helps, feel free to start the soundtrack in your head, "Packing up the dreams God planted . . ."
- Kelly – to my complementary "TWO with a strong Three wing" you are one of the most genuine people I know.
- Francis – you have always asked the right questions and make the wise, pointed observations.
- Andy – for your perseverance and guidance back to what is important.
- Byron – so glad you finally made it to YUP, our 20-year relationship reminds me of the power and connections of the Spirit.
- Tara – thank you for sharing yourself and your family. Your presence is that much more rich.
- Kimberly – you remind us of the need to open up our experience of God.
- Susan – for the constancy that you bring and the friendship that you offer.
- Howard – welcome to the crew and thank you for your voice for the voiceless.
- Nathan – for your centered faithfulness and joy of ministry, you big wannabee rock star 😉
- Jud – not sure where to begin, you offer the group a deep and intensely thoughtful perspective of faith and life.
- Phil – we cannot thank you enough for making this group a reality and for your support over the years for so many in the front line ministries.
To everyone, thank you for another wonderfully renewing experience. While I fully enjoy my ministry setting, I need this time for my own sanity and perspective. You all remind me of the joy of serving with so many as part of the larger church and body of Christ. This richness of our gathering always reminds me of the gifts of such a group that offers perspective, accountability and renewal. Thank you my friends!