Tag Archives: Grace United Methodist Church

A City Set on a Hill Cannot be Hidden

A little more than a week ago I returned from my first trip to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage with Bishop and Mrs. Trimble and thirty-four other participants from the Iowa Annual Conference UMC.   This past week I’ve been trying to absorb spiritual impact of this experience on my life and ministry.

When I agreed to go to Israel and Palestine I knew I would see locations which we read about, preach about, and talk about in church every day.  We sat in a boat on the sea of Galilee, many of us stood in the Jordan river as Bishop Trimble helped us remember our baptisms.  We walked the streets of Capernaum and gathered at the Garden of Gethsemane.  I knew that I would see those places.

But the spiritual impact of being in places where Jesus walked, taught, preached, and yes gave his life for us, was powerful!  I have been preaching the gospel of this Jesus whose steps we followed for more than 25 years.  That gospel felt as real, immanent and powerful as it ever has at any point in my life and ministry.

There were so many good things about being on the trip.  It was wonderful to be with colleague for a week and a half and get to know them better.  It was good to travel with Bishop and Mrs. Trimble and hear their insights and experiences about the Holy Land and about ministry.  It was great to travel with eight other friends from Grace United Methodist Church who I see weekly but got to have a wonderful shared experience with on this pilgrimage.

Along with the trip being powerful, moving, and spiritual it was also sobering and even in places a little painful.  It was tough to see the divisions that exist between Christians, Jews, and Muslims in a land that all three faiths call holy.  It was tough to see the wall around Bethlehem and know that people suffer because of the security measures involved all over the Holy Land no matter what you believe about the need for security in this very divided land.  It was tough to hear a faith leader tell us that religion has as often led to division as it has led to unity in a land filled with holy places and places of worship.

As we traveled I also learned a lot about the geography of the place Jesus called home.  I learned why you “go up to Jerusalem.”  I learned that so many of the cities Jesus saw as he preached and taught were set on the hills an valleys of the land around him.  So the words, “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” gives new meaning as I saw much of Jerusalem and also Nazareth built on the hillsides.

I am going to be integrating and processing this experience for a long time and I know also that I’d like to return again some time in the future as the Lord wills.

While we were in the Holy Land our Bishop encourages us to pray for peace.  And so now on my continued prayer list are prayers of peace for the peace of Jerusalem, the peace of Israel, peace for the Palestinian people, peace among people of good will of all faiths in that land, and that all of us would be instruments of God’s peace wherever we are.

July 1st a New Year (If you are a United Methodist Preacher)



Today officially begins a new appointment year for UMC pastors in Iowa and today marks the beginning of my second year of appointment at Grace UMC in Sioux City, Iowa. 

This has been a great year to be at Grace UMC!  I’ve had opportunity to welcome a number of new members into the church, I’ve had quite a few baptisms, a large confirmation class of a dozen new professing members, and this year we are celebrating Grace’s 125th anniversary.  

As part of our anniversary celebration we are raising $12,500 to divide between Imagine No Malaria and a Backpack food assistance program at Spalding Park Elementary School.  

In my first year at Grace I have found this church to be a welcoming and friendly group of people who want to serve the Church and serve Christ.  Grace is a church with a heart for its community, the Morningside neighborhood of Sioux City, Morningside College and the Sioux City metro.  

I am very much looking forward to my second year at Grace UMC and am exciting for what God will be doing here through all of us as we work together by the grace of God through Jesus Christ!

The First Leg of the Next Adventure

Today we moved into our new home in Sioux City.  The movers unloaded the truck at the house and at Grace UMC filling both my home and office with boxes.  We immediately began unpacking the boxes that we had spent many days packing.

I ran by the office to get keys and meet with some of the church staff and had the good fortune to run into some of members of Grace and some colleagues in ministry from Morningside College right next door to Grace.

My wife Michelle and I are excited to be here!  I’m looking forward to standing in the pulpit this weekend for my first sermons Saturday and Sunday and to meeting many members of Grace UMC throughout the week.

For those of you who pastor you know that a church move always brings many changes which are similar to anyone who moves to a new community for a new job.  But for pastors the change is even more significant.  When you truly feel called to the life of ministry your church becomes not just a profession the church becomes your friends, your family, your place of worship, your place of service, and the place where you live out the calling that is a part of every facet of your left.

There have been times in my life when I have found some ministry to be challenging and difficult.  There have been many other times when I’ve found the some of the greatest joys in my life in ministry with God’s people.   Starting at a new charge reminds me of my calling and the fact that I can think of nothing else in all the world that I would rather do or feel called to do than serve the church of Jesus Christ in pastoral ministry.

It is good to know that you are where you were meant to be!