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Pastor's Perspective January 17, 2014

Pastor's Perspective by Ralph Kelley on Jan 15, 2014

In October of 2002, after 21 years of serving with Reformed University Ministries, Billy Joseph joined the staff of First Presbyterian Jackson. For the last 11 years, Billy has faithfully served our church as the minister of congregational care.  For those members who decided to join First Presbyterian by way of the Inquirers class, Billy has been one of the first pastors here whom you have gotten to know personally.  Many of you could recount story after story of how the Lord has used Billy in your Christian walk as you have experienced the joys and sorrows of life.  His ministry among us will certainly be missed. Billy has worked closely with our deacons to make sure those who are in need are getting proper care from First Presbyterian. Billy has also been instrumental in managing our shepherding ministry.  Those of you who are a part of our choir and our PROS program will certainly miss the ministry of Billy’s wife, Marian. Among the staff, he has always been an encourager, an example of godly character, and true friend.  Billy has been called to be the stated supply pastor at the Eastwood Presbyterian Church in his hometown of Montgomery, Alabama. I believe that the Lord has prepared Billy to serve Eastwood well in a time where they need a loving, caring man to lead them. From my first day on the job here, Billy has been a constant source of encouragement to me and has sought to serve the people of this congregation well. His constant smile and gentle spirit are qualities that make him a great pastor. I would ask that you would join with me in praying for Billy and Marian as they make this transition. Pray that the logistics of relocating would work out smoothly and that the Lord would bless this new season of ministry for the Josephs.

I also have more news regarding personnel I want to share with you. However, this is not about someone being called elsewhere but instead it is someone who is being called to serve here. I want to let you that our new Christian Education Intern, Gary Sinclair, arrived in town this past weekend and starts his responsibilities with us here at FPC on January 15th. Gary and his wife, Petula, have three children: two boys, ages 12 and 11, and one girl, age 9. They are coming to us all the way from South Africa. Gary has been serving as the pastor of St. Columba’s Presbyterian Church in Pretoria since 2008. Prior to that pastorate, he was the pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Witbank.  Gary has already begun his studies at RTS through the online Global Campus and will continue his studies here at the Jackson campus. I have had the opportunity to Skype with Gary on a couple of occasions as well as exchange emails. I am confident we are adding a man to our staff who will provide a real breadth of knowledge and will serve and lead us well while here in seminary. This is certainly a big move for Gary, Petaula, and their children, and I would like to thank everyone who has already donated furnishings and other items for them.  In the coming weeks, we will introduce them to you on a Sunday morning, and since the Christian Education intern is involved with so many facets of our church life, I am sure that you will get to know him and his family in no time. 

The last thing I want to share with you is that once again we have reason to be grateful, for the Lord’s provision through his people for the work of the church. The results of our year-end giving are extraordinary and encouraging. After retiring our debt in November, the Lord graciously provided through you, His people, so that we were not only able to meet all of our budgeted expenses but finish the year comfortably in the black once again. So, once again, every gift mattered, every contribution was hugely important, and despite the fact that so many in the congregation are continuing to deal with the effects of the economy (loss of income, unemployment, etc.), the church ministry budget has been able to finish strong overall through the course of the last several years. This is a cause for gratitude to God, and a great encouragement to your staff and officers. We thank God and give Him all the credit and the glory. He has richly provided for us yet again. 

Semper Reformanda (always reforming)

Ralph Kelley