The past few months at St. Andrew have been eventful, to say the least.
As 2023 unfolded we found ourselves mourning the sudden and expected passing of Greg Twombley, our Director of Ministries and Praise Team Leader, who served among us for more than 16 years. Even as we rejoice that our brother has received his eternal joy and rest in Christ, we also lean into the comfort of God’s promises and the care of one another as we miss him still and think of him every day.
Among the tasks that have fallen to me in the aftermath of Greg’s passing is the process of cleaning out his office, reviewing his files, and attending to things that require immediate attention. While it is a painful experience, it has also heightened my gratitude and refreshed my memories of the countless meetings, tireless commitment, and many expressions of love and appreciation given and received by Greg throughout his years in our church family. The mixture of Greg’s faithful service, brotherly friendship, and personal support coupled with his remarkable skills as a musician made him a truly unique presence among us.
On Saturday, May 6, at 2:00 p.m., we will gather at St. Andrew for a service of thanksgiving for Greg’s faith and life, and above all for his salvation in Jesus. I also encourage you to read elsewhere in this newsletter about some of the adjustments we’ve already made and others yet to be determined as we re-group and press on with the work of Christ, giving thanks for Greg and for all the saints on whose shoulders we stand.
Speaking of pressing on, in February we also celebrated the installation of our new Vicar, Mengesha Shibru Gella, who has been serving as our Director of Amharic Outreach, and has embarked upon a course of theological education that will result in his ordination into the pastoral ministry of the Lutheran church. What a blessed day of hope and celebration for our church family! You can also read more elsewhere in this newsletter about what a “vicar” is and how Mengesha’s seminary journey will become evident in our life together at St. Andrew. Be sure to include Mengesha, Meron, and their children in your prayers.
Meanwhile, in February we also lifted up the ministry of Bethania Kids and welcomed new members into our fellowship. There were pancakes to mark the end of Epiphany and ashes to mark us with the cross as we entered Lent. And if that isn’t enough, on a personal note Patty and I became grandparents, as our daughter Andrea and her husband Joel welcomed Madison Marlene Gast just before Christmas and we celebrated her baptism in Christ in January! It’s frankly hard to believe that I baptized our youngest child when we first arrived at St. Andrew, never thinking that I would someday baptize a grandchild in the same congregation. I really have been here a long time, haven’t I?
But what a blessing it is to be in a church family that laughs, cries, mourns, celebrates, and keeps going by God’s grace through all the changing seasons of life. To that end, I once again encourage your presence and your offerings of time and treasure as we worship our Lord, serve the world, and make our way through these final days of Lent with the great assurance that Easter is coming and our life together is always in the One who died and rose again for all of us. That, of course, is the most eventful story of all!
The Lord be with you+
Love, in Christ,