Evelyn Glass is the former director of Women’s Ministries in the MidAmerica Union.

You may not fully understand the joy and anticipation with which we welcome you to our church. We know that we will love you and look forward to getting acquainted with you and your family.

We have had many pastors through the years. Our congregation is small (less than 200 members), and for various reasons, the pastors have left one by one. They have gone on to retirement or are drawn to a warmer climate; others need to be closer to family members. The mission field has called, as have larger churches and the work of full-time evangelism. We understand why our pastors have chosen to move on to new and different challenges, for this is how we all grow. Saying farewell to each pastor has brought sadness to our hearts.

Again we have been searching for just the right person to be our pastor. We are so glad you and your family are the ones who will capture a warm spot in our hearts and memories forever.

Our congregation is diverse. The occupations the people have chosen are varied: some are laborers, some are in businesses, some are professionals, and some have retired. Most are successful in whatever career they have chosen. In spite of difficulties, they try to maintain a cheerful attitude.

Our needs are many and varied. Some have just lost a loved one. Others are coming to terms with a doctor’s diagnosis of a terminal illness or of a disease that will disable them for the remaining years of their lives. Our senior members face the prospect of entering nursing homes. Businesses have financial struggles. Farmers cope with weather conditions and low prices for their crops. Parents have many concerns for their children.

We need you to feed our souls. We want you to give us sermons that will uplift us and guide us through the week. Visit us in our homes. Be sensitive when we are hurting and rejoice with us through the good times. Let your pastoral heart touch us personally.

We are aware that some find it easy to divide the congregation into the young and the old, the wealthy and the poor, or the well-educated and the uneducated. We prefer to be known as a family that works, plays, and prays together.

Some church leaders have held their positions of leadership for several years. Some members may think these people want to be leaders because of the prestige and “power” of their positions, whereas the leaders believe it has been their duty to serve when asked by nominating committees through the years. Our pastors have taught us that we each have talents, and that it is our responsibility as followers of Jesus to use these talents. Whether our leaders are young or old, male or female, we appreciate their talents and welcome their willingness to serve.

Many of us have lived in our community for our entire lives, and we have worked to keep our church a thriving church. Without the ministry of our strong leaders, this church might not have survived long enough for you to be our pastor.

Perhaps you may think one of us is the Patriarch or the Matriarch of the church. Thank you for the compliment, for that puts us in a class with Abraham and Sarah and others whom God considers it well for us to study and emulate. We would rather think of ourselves as God’s children whose lives and hearts and souls are involved in living for Christ. Part of that life is being a faithful church member.

Love us through all our faults and mistakes. Help us to grow in the grace of Christ. May we never leave God’s house, when you have spoken, without feeling Christ’s love projected through you.

Help us know your needs. Allow us to be your comforters when you need comfort. We want to be understanding when your children are (like ours) less than perfect. To see you tired and weary does not make us happy, so take time to relax and enjoy your family. Uphold and support your spouse. If you have children, reserve time in your busy schedule for them. By placing your family first, you will set the right example for us.

Love us through all our faults and mistakes. Help us to grow in the grace of Christ. May we never leave God’s house, when you have spoken, without feeling Christ’s love projected through you.

oin with us in our family celebrations. We want to fill the void in your life when your family is far away. Our tables, homes, and hearts always have room for one more.

Pastor, you are new to our congregation, and you may feel that you know us by visiting for a moment or two whenever you have the opportunity. Most of us are more complex, and we appreciate when you take the time to really get to know us. In the same manner, we want to develop a relationship with your family that we will treasure through the years to come.

We have chosen to be a part of our local community, and we want you to participate with us in community programs and events. When friends and neighbors comment on your friendliness and helpfulness, it will bring joy to our hearts. We will have another reason to be thankful for your ministry.

The story is told of two men who moved into a new community and wondered what their new neighbors would be like. The first man went to a businessman in the community and asked him about the people who would be his neighbors. The businessman asked, “What were your neighbors like where you used to live?”

The man replied, “Oh, they were the worst people you could imagine.”

The businessman responded, “That is the kind of people you will find here.”

The second man went to the same businessman and asked, “What kind of people are my new neighbors?”

Again the businessman asked the same question: “What were your neighbors like where you used to live?”

“Oh, they were such kind and wonderful people. I really hated to leave them.”

With a smile, the businessman replied, “That is just the kind of people you will find here.”

If you have had an unpleasant experience in your former pastorate, leave it there and come to us with an open heart and mind. Anticipate that you will find acceptance and love.

Welcome to our hearts! May there be mutual understanding and love. May your ministry be fruitful and productive. May we be that “perfect” congregation of which you have always dreamed.

Evelyn Glass is the former director of Women’s Ministries in the MidAmerica Union.