Confirming the Call

As I continue to reflect on this 50-year-mark as minister here at Braden Park, I am thinking today about those first few months after we moved to Tulsa in response to a call from God and a call from the church. My assignment was to be assistant minister in charge of the education and youth ministries. I was also asked by Dr. Bob Willets, senior minister at the time, to preach either the morning or evening service each week to help him fully recover from a time of depression. We decided not to announce who would be preaching when, to keep from getting into a fixed routine. I was preaching through 1 Corinthians. One Sunday in November Dr. Bob was out of town. The next Sunday he returned to the pulpit and announced that he had accepted a call to pastor a church just outside of Washington D. C. His last day would be December 31. Dorothy and I were taken by surprise, and we had questions.

Those Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays were a flurry of church activities, family and friends visiting us, and celebrating our baby’s first Christmas. We were out of town that first week of January when the Music Director was asked to resign. Tensions were high and we received conflicting advice about how to proceed.  We made a quick trip to Ft. Worth to talk with our former pastor and other mentors. A Pulpit Committee was formed, and I agreed to become the interim pastor on condition I could have occasional guest preachers to give me some time for discernment. In late January I brought a “State of the Church” message which challenged the church to decide who they would become. In early March, I attended a most valuable conference in Dallas, that emphasized the power of personal management in church ministry. It clarified for me an understanding of myself and my call to service. It gave me tools to help lead others through conflict and to take personal responsibility for managing the programs of the church. Apparently, the Easter message I brought gave a sense of unity to the congregation, and soon afterward the pulpit committee asked me to consider becoming the pastor. Through that whole process I continued to sense a strong calling to lead this congregation. I officially became senior pastor on Mother’s Day 1974. I was where God had called me, and still am to this day. 

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today.  And let’s continue to experience the love and power of God together.

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