Forty-Five Years With Chester
When we moved to Chester we had no idea that this relationship would last for such a long time. Several years ago, the general view of longevity was that preachers should move every two years. As one preacher put it, “It is not good for a congregation to be fed from the same spoon for a long time.” However, this view of preaching has changed. On December 22, 1964, we began a long and pleasant period that has lasted now for forty-five years.
One of the most important things that made possible this long tenure is the fact that Chester has excelled in leadership. Some of the strongest elders that I have ever known have watched over the Chester church through past years. Their leadership has led the church in having a part of many good works. The congregation has supported many missionaries, both in this country and others, as they have devoted their lives to the cause of Christ. Because of their love for the truth, they have been careful to see that the congregation is given a diet of truth. They have opposed religious error and have not opened the congregation to becoming a springboard for error. They have challenged the church to grow spiritually. Another characteristic of the church has been the unity that has prevailed. Meeting problems quickly has prevented them from growing into larger problems. In the past years, the congregation has produced more than twenty-five Gospel preachers.
In preaching at one place for this long, a nearly complete turnover has taken place in the membership. Many members have passed away, and many have moved to other locations. When members move to another area and become active members in the congregations there, it is a source of encouragement to those who remain behind. In these years, one has occasion to have weddings in nearly every family in the church. In addition, time requires that the preacher be with each family in times of great distress. When hearts are broken by the loss of a loved one, the preacher is a part of the effort of a family to deal with their loss. When there is personal distress, the preacher is looked to for spiritual help. He fits into every aspect of the lives of the congregation. These situations make the preacher close to the whole congregation. His love for these people grows as the years pass. When there is success, the preacher rejoices and thanks God. When things go wrong, he questions himself and wonders what he could have done to change the situation.
When people ask if you had it to do over, would you stay such a long time, the answer is, “Yes.” Not every preacher/congregation relationship should be continued, but, when one has worked as well as this one has, it is worth holding on. God has richly blessed my family and me with the move to Chester. We have had forty-five years of happiness with a great congregation. We pray that God has been pleased with our efforts. –Virginia Ave. & Second St., Chester, WV 26034. firstname.lastname@example.org
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