One of the hallmarks of life at Lakeshore is the number of members of our congregation who are ordained, licensed or commissioned ministers. This is a great strength and a great joy as well as a great challenge in that I am often speaking to and working with people who know a whole lot more than I do!
Because it is important to recognize the significant skills, gifts, experiences and perspectives of these persons, and because we Baptists honor the priesthood of all believers, I am committed to supporting them as they live out their calls and to identifying ways in which LABC can benefit from their presence with us.
In 2003, with the support of the Church Council, I asked the members of the congregation who were ordained, licensed and commissioned, but not on the church staff, if they would like to be part of something called the LABC Minister at Large Roster. In an email I sent inviting them to be included in this listing I wrote:
This roster is a mostly symbolic, but hopefully meaningful, way of recognizing that we have ordained, licensed and commissioned members of our congregation who are engaged in significant ministry both within and beyond the walls of our church. These persons deserve to know that their church prays for and respects them in their work. They need to know that we are interested in their ministry. They need to know that their commitment to excellence and integrity reflect on us all… Our commitment will be to pray for, encourage and recognize your work. Your commitment will be to report to the church once a year about how you are living out your call and to recognize that that the way you carry out your work represents Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church.
The charter members of this roster were David Bartlett, Dale Edmondson, Dave Gattey, Gene Holcomb, Dick Jones, John Landgraf, Sandra Lee, Mark Liebenow, Rick Mixon, Linda Moody, Daniel Pryfogle, Dave Robinson and Joan Thatcher.
This roster was quite active for a few years and then fell into disuse. However, the reasoning behind the roster remains valid. Thus, I am working on updating and reactivating it. In early July I sent an email to a number of our members asking if they would like to remain on the roster or be added to it. Happily, I have received affirmative replies (as of this writing) from Wally Bryen, Dale Edmondson, LeAnn Flesher, Dave Gattey, John Landgraf, Carolyn Matthews, Charlotte Myers, Sandra Lee, Rick Mixon, Daniel Pryfogle, Steve Reimer, Dave Robinson, Chris Schelin, Dayle Scott and Sydney Webster.
In the months to come, I will share some of the reports and descriptions of ministry that they shared with me. They are insightful and inspiring. They are witness to the ways God is at work in our midst. They are reminders that the Christian ministry involves much more (as important as these things are) than preaching, visiting the sick, going to meetings of the buildings and grounds committee and writing newsletter columns.
Representative of what I received are these words from Mark Liebenow who now lives in Peoria, Illinois. “My ministry is to the grieving and those who want to help them. I write a weekly blog that explores the landscape of grief and offers insights for working one’s way through grief. I also write essays to bring awareness of grief to those who have never lost anyone close and to push society to do more to help those who are suffering.”
More to come.