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Growing Deep, Growing Strong


Pastor Mur talks about the long term benefits of staying planted at a local church.

I have six stories to tell to set the stage for where I want to go. They are short stories, and they are true stories. You will like the stories. I know the people in each of them.

Image: Stan Myers

I will start with one where I was directly involved. A few months ago my wife, Jean, and I went 2500 miles from our home and attended a Sunday morning service at the church of her youth. It was the weekend of her 50th High School Reunion and also the first time that she had been back to that area since she graduated in 1950. Jean’s Dad pastored that church for 13 years from 1938 to 1950. My wife grew up in its parsonage, and had gone to elementary school and then junior and senior high in the same town.

Jean remembered the church and the 300-400 people that used to fill it every Sunday. She still knew some of them there the Sunday we visited even though 50 years had passed. Later at lunch she talked about how her father and mother had loved and served all those people during those 13 years. She remembered her Dad on his knees daily praying for various members of the church. My wife knew her Dad as a godly man and remembers him, as do I, as just that.

Jean’s Dad was ordained in a holiness denomination where the national church polity gave the congregation the responsibility to vote on the acceptability of their pastor each year, and his/her contract was renewed for another year after the vote. While there were and are instances where the denomination allowed contracts longer than one year, the polity essentially was and still is one where the pastor serves at the sheep’s pleasure. In the summer of 1950 after 13 years of dedicated loving service, her Dad’s congregation voted him out of his pastorate by one vote.

My second story is about one of my daughters. A couple of years ago she asked me what I thought she should do with her tithe. Her church was buzzing with rumors that the pastor was misusing church funds. She was uncomfortable with giving her money to a bad cause. What should she and her husband do?

The next story is about a retired businessman who had held ministerial credentials in his denomination off and on over his career. He had a seminary degree, was well read in theological matters, and late in his life was an unpaid though recognized and respected member of the pastoral staff in one of the denomination’s largest churches. He did a lot of counseling, and the congregation always enjoyed his thoughts when he was allowed to teach from the pulpit. It was a growing church and people were constantly being saved which meant a baptismal service was held every month for a hundred or so candidates that wanted to follow that ordinance. My friend was one of the dozen pastoral staff members who administered those rites on that monthly Sunday afternoon.

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2001

About the Author: H. Murray Hohns went home to be with Jesus on November 28, 2012. He was on staff at the largest church in Hawaii and served on his denomination's investment committee from 1999 until his death. Hohns held two degrees in Civil Engineering, an MA in Theology from Fuller Seminary, and served as an instructor at Foursquare's New Hope Christian College (formerly Pacific Rim Christian College) in Honolulu. He wrote six engineering books and hundreds of articles in every type of newspaper, magazine and journal.

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