12 years ago I went to seminary. After three years of classes, ordination exams, internships, and more classes, and the arrival of our third child in 2001, I would graduate in 2003. After seminary I was ordained as a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. I currently serve in a small church as a solo pastor and my previous church I was an associate pastor. Seminary was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. It was a place where I was pushed and challenged. I have no regrets and I am grateful that I had the chance to attend seminary. It was by God’s grace and a whole lot of prayers from friends and family as well as the nudging of my wife that got me through seminary. I’m still looking back to what I learned in seminary as I walk and minster to and with folks trying to follow Jesus in the world.
I remember the day like yesterday. We drove across the country, I drove the UHAUL, my wife drove the kids. Our last big stretch of driving was through Pennsylvania and we would land eventually in Princeton, New Jersey. My first course was a Greek intensive literally a week or so after we moved into our student housing with our children.
As a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church we are assigned a liaison who walks with us during the process of preparing for ministry. He or she acts almost like a cheerleader of sorts, an administrative assistant in a way, reminding us to stay on top of our annual visits, helping us get approval for things like ordination exams, and acts as our representative to the committee on preparation for ministry that oversees folks preparing for ordained ministry in the denomination.
Today I found out that my liaison I had in seminary went to be with the Lord earlier this month. I was saddened to here this news. I have no doubt my friend Bill has made a huge impact on the kingdom and I know I’m not the only one he walked with in the process of getting ready to be ordained. I have a file folder filled with emails from Bill. Reminders about meetings with CPM. Updates on questions I had about process and even questions about when it would be okay to take certain ordination exams. Every time I talked with Bill on the phone or via email I knew Bill was cheering me on as well as praying for me. Bill could of written a handbook on, “How to walk with seminarians through the joys and struggles of preparing for ordained ministry.”
On one occasion I remember sitting with Bill outside the “room” prior to a meeting where I’d be interviewed for my annual meeting with CPM. I had flown back from Jersey to Los Angeles. Bill had met me at the presbytery office and every time I went into a CPM meeting which is a grueling process as it is, Bill would always walk into the room with me and sit with me. Honestly? It was like having your dad sitting next to you, cheering you on, praying for you, and had my back in case I needed help.
When we arrived to my current church where I serve in Littlerock, Bill called me almost five years ago to say hello. He was still checking up on me. He truly has made an impact for Christ by being an example of what it means to encourage and empower men and women who are feeling led by the Holy Spirit to pursue ordained ministry.
I will miss Bill tremendously and I am grateful that he’s now with the Lord and I have not doubt the Lord has already set up an office for Bill to help in the work of watching and providing care over those who are in need of a heavenly liaison in helping folks figure out what it is the Lord is calling them to do in the church and in the world as a Christ follower.