**We're Moving to Chattanooga**
This is Eric again (don’t worry faithful followers of the blog… Jennifer will be writing again soon!). I’m writing today to let you know that we’ve been officially “called” to be the senior pastor of the Chattanooga 1st Church of the Nazarene. The congregation voted Sunday morning (June 29) with a 95% favorable vote. What a great statement of affirmation. I can’t tell you how neat it is for us to know that others (our soon to be church family) feel as right about the match as we feel. In fact, my major comment to Jennifer as we left Chattanooga is that I really hoped they’d call us for the simple fact that I want to be a part of what God’s doing in that church.
Let me tell you about Chattanooga 1st (at least the little I’ve figured out so far). Chatt. 1st is one of the oldest churches in our denomination – older, in fact, than the denomination itself (102 years). I was a little worried at first that this might mean “living in the past” kind of thinking. But I found nothing of the sort. While the people are justifiably proud of their history, they don’t spend a lot of time looking back. Instead they kept talking about what they hoped to see in terms of children and teen programming. They wanted to know how I would go about leading them in outreach to their community. They’ve already started to reach out to their Hispanic neighbors and are talking about blended (multi-lingual) worship services and other kinds of ministries for this emerging cultural group. They’re already supportive of the local home-school association and seem open to other ministries including adoption / foster-parenting ministries. I just love it when God’s people look around and ask the question, “What more can we do for the kingdom?”
The church itself is an old Jewish high school/community center. The sanctuary seats around 300; it has a large kitchen, gymnasium and education space – space that’s just waiting to be filled. It’s located just North of a major interstate and (if we could cut down some trees) can be easily seen from the highway. They already have a lively praise band and team as well as a choir. I enjoyed worshiping with them because the people put as much heart into singing the hymns as they did singing the praise choruses – they’re doing a good job of blending the two worship styles. The congregation currently averages about 120 in morning worship.
There are a couple things that I really enjoyed about our visit. The first is the very obvious love for one another. Some of the members have been part of the church for over seventy years – and the great thing is that they’re still vitally alive in Christ and involved in ministry. I didn’t sense a division between “old” and “new” members, just a willingness to work together. There was a strong value for Biblical preaching and discipleship. And everywhere I turned, there were signs that this is a praying church.
Can you understand why I walked away thinking, “I want to be part of this church!”
Tentatively, we’re planning to say good-bye to our friends in Richmond on August 3rd and load up the truck on Monday, the 4th. There’s no getting around the fact that this is going to be a tearful farewell. Even though we’re confident that God is leading us toward Chattanooga, it doesn’t change the fact that we’ll grieve the loss of our friends and ministry in Richmond. Jen and I hope to have an open house before we go where we’ll have a chance to say good-bye to everyone. We’ll let you know when we finalized the details.
Well, Jennifer just pointed out that this is getting pretty long for a blog post, so I’ll wrap things up. We just want you to know that we appreciate your friendship and prayers. And we give praise to God for the way he leads those who seek him with all their heart.
Here's a few of the promised photos from our trip... Hugs, JenniferGranddad, Noelle, Eric and Grammy overlooking the Tennessee River from the Bluff View Art District
Chattanooga First Church of the Nazarene
Now listen up everyone! We have a great place in the parsonage for our friends and family to come visit. The finished basement has a large sitting room, a bedroom, a bathroom w/shower, and a kitchenette. So, next time you find yourself in The Volunteer State, please come on by and see us!