Prior to beginning my work as a professor and Associate Dean of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Fuller, I was on the staff at Simi (Evangelical) Covenant Church in Simi Valley, California for 24 years. I had the great joy of serving as senior pastor of that congregation for eighteen of those years.
This weekend we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of this wonderful congregation. Here I want to give a shout out of appreciation to this congregation for the way the people of this fellowship have loved me, endured me, shaped me, and supported me.
Kristi and I came to this church straight out of seminary. This was my first full time ministry job, and I was the congregation’s first full time associate pastor. Over the years, Simi Covenant has been a part of our married life, and the birth and raising of our two children. Simi Covenant is family to us. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to all the people who have been aunts and uncles, grandparents and friends to my family. Even more, I am grateful for this church that helped to shape me into the person I am today. The work of this church has allowed me to do the work I now am engaged in at Fuller Theological Seminary.
Eugene Peterson puts it this way: The congregation is the pastor’s place for developing vocational holiness. It goes without saying that it is the place of ministry: we preach the word and administer the sacraments, we give pastoral care and administer community life, we teach and we give spiritual direction. But it is also the place in which we develop virtue, learn to love, advance in hope—become what we preach (Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness)
This is exactly what Simi Covenant has done, and continues to do for me–helping me to become a better follower of Jesus Christ, and a better minister of the gospel.
To the people of Simi Covenant–thanks! And happy 50th anniversary.