I wish I’d treated you to a coffee at the Spadina-Bloor Second Cup before you left. Sat across from you and said what I hope you’ll allow me to say now: Thank you.
Thank you for rushing after Jeff and me that Sunday as we made our way to the heavy oak doors at the front of the church, not yet sure if this Church was “it.” You were so happy to meet Jeff and me. You saw us. What a gift you gave us that Sunday and all the days thereafter. It’s a gift the best pastors offer their flock – the gift of welcome.
And that gift never got old. In fact, you offered it in so many ways as you pastored me. You gave it when you shared about the church’s history and your sense of its future. Did you know that in doing so you were welcoming me into what God wanted to do here, making me part of its future?
“What are your spiritual gifts? Think about doing an inventory,” you said another day. That gift of welcome again, wrapped in an invitation to explore what God was doing in my life.
And you offered that welcome once more when you blinked, huffed a bit in your beard and calmly suggested I consider becoming a worship leader. Welcome wrapped in the act of loving me forward into ministry.
You saw me. Welcomed me. Gave me a rich sense of place and belonging. Nudged me forward into deep ministry and a deeper relationship with Jesus.
Thank you, good shepherd.
By Renee James
Renee is the communications director for CBWOQ and editor of its publication – live magazine. Donald was one of her pastors at Walmer Road Baptist Church.