Pastor’s viewpoint: 1-9-16

Published 2:00 pm Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Becoming a Methodist pastor means you’ll spend your life moving from church to church within an annual conference, for me the South Georgia Annual Conference. It was once a four-year tenure; later we were asked, and the church was asked, to fill out a form … move, stay, or wherever the church wants us to go.
The U. S. Census Bureau tells us that 16.9 million Americans moved in 2012; seven million moved to another state. The average American will move 11.3 times in a lifetime. Mary Ella and I moved 13 times in the first seven years after we married! Someone asked me if I’d like moving every four years in ministry; I responded that I didn’t know if I could live in one place for four years. We then added seven more moves before we retired to Ochlocknee and we are here to stay!
Moving is not new for God’s people; Abraham moved from Mesopotamia to Canaan. Jacob moved from Canaan to Egypt. Moses moved from Egypt back to Canaan. Ruth moved from Moab to Judah. The Jews moved from Canaan to Babylon. Joseph and Mary moved from Bethlehem to Egypt, and then back to Bethlehem. And Paul was constantly moving!
Jeremiah, speaking for God, once wrote, “Watch what comes next: “I’ll bring my people back from the north country and gather them up from the ends of the earth, gather those who’ve gone blind and those who are lame and limping, gather pregnant women, Even the mothers whose birth pangs have started, bring them all back, a huge crowd! (Jeremiah 31.7-14)
Mary Ella and I have enjoyed moving, meeting new people in the five states where we’ve lived, and seeing new places. Al and Jim have friends across South Georgia and they easily and naturally meet new people. We quickly discovered that home is wherever we are as long as we’re there together.
There is one more move in our future, and it’s the last move we’ll ever make. We’ve made reservations at the marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven!

Charles ‘Buddy’ Whatley is a retired Methodist pastor serving Woodland and Bold Springs, a marketplace chaplain, and, with Mary Ella, a team leader with the Navajo Mission Team.