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Pastoral Charge

(On May 17, 2013, I turned the reins of the First Apostolic Church over to Senior Pastor Kris Dillingham.  I had served as Senior Pastor for thirty years, and had served as an assistant and associate ten years prior to that.  Some have asked me how this transition was handled.  This charge was read that evening and I thought I would post it here to give those who are interested my particular perspective on the event.)

Read Acts 20:17-36

Thirty years ago this week, an incredible trust was bequeathed to me by Pastor Fred E. Kinzie.  He came to this church thirty years prior to that date and led it from a floundering, wounded congregation to a thriving, revival church.  He guided the church through difficult times, through crises that threatened the life of the church and his own life as well.  He led it from a storefront building on Detroit Ave. to a beautiful edifice on Jackman Rd., and then to our first stage of construction on twenty-five acres here in Sylvania township. 

I am sure, at first, that I didn’t fully appreciate what had been given to me.  Hopefully, at this juncture, I am much more aware of its value.  I have harvested from fields I did not plant.  I have enjoyed buildings that I did not build.  I have reaped rewards from wonderful saints whom I did not win to Christ.  Countless prayers that I did not pray have been answered to my benefit.  Untold sacrifices were made that cost me nothing, but enriched my life to a degree I could never have earned or expected.  And, in a sense, not just me, but all of us stand on the shoulders of giants. 

Tonight, May 17, 2013, I follow in the footsteps of my predecessor and release into your trust the care and keeping of an assembly that was first organized into a group of believers in 1937, seventy-six years ago.  As the newly elected Senior Pastor, if you will love them, lead them and care for them, they will return to you the same love and loyalty that they have given to me since 1983.  Share their joys, attend to their spiritual needs, comfort them in their sorrows, love their families and point the way to a brighter future.  If you will faithfully fulfill these simple demands, a strong church will grow still stronger and a blessed people will enjoy greater blessings.  

These noble goals are accomplished as you appropriate the words of the Apostle Paul as he spoke to the elders of the church.  As he delivered his charge to them, so I charge you now:  Do not shun to declare the whole counsel of God.  Take heed to yourself that you may be the example of Christ to the church.  Feed the flock of God.  Guard the church against grievous wolves and false brethren.  Warn the saints against the treachery of the world night and day with tears.  Covet no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.  Support the weak and teach that it is more blessed to give than to receive. 

But beyond these necessary provisions for right relationships, the overarching purpose for the church is to be a city set on a hill that cannot be hid; a lighthouse broadcasting the truth to a lost world.  I charge you also to preach the Word, stay in a constant state of preparedness, reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and doctrine.  Your first duty is to please the Lord Jesus Christ and instruct people to follow you as you follow Christ.  

This house of worship was dedicated to the propagation of Apostolic truth: the oneness of God, repentance, baptism in Jesus’ Name, the infilling of the Holy Ghost evidenced by speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance, pursuing a life of holiness, and awaiting with pure hearts the soon coming of Jesus Christ for His Church.  Remain faithful to these truths.  May this worship center be a soul-saving station; may this pulpit proclaim the certain sound of the trumpet of truth; may this people be knit together in oneness of mind and unity of purpose.  

We commit ourselves to this course as God gives us His grace and strength.  In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Now, the new Senior Pastor and his family will come to the front of the sanctuary.  The ministers, deacons and elder will lay hand on them and we will pray together.)

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