So said the Lord Jesus to John (Luke 9:50). In the Protestant pastors of the churches of Virden and Girard I have found such a group.
After spending a large part of the day yesterday helping with some of the work to prepare the rectory for my successor (more overseeing than working, to be honest), I joined many of the Protestant these pastors for a farewell dinner at K & S Hawaiian BBQ in Springfield.
We had an enjoyable evening and delicious food; it was unanimously agreed that I made a good choice in restaurants and many - if not all - will certainly go back.
I will miss being with a such a fine group of people dedicated to their faith and open to working with one another in a respectful and cooperative manner.
I've never before encountered such a group of ministers from different Christian traditions who were as open, respectful and caring of one another as this group. The Lutheran pastor - of the Missouri Synod - agrees with my assessment.
When I first attended a meeting of what is now the North Macoupin County Ministerial Association I was struck by the acknowledgement and acceptance that, because of various disciplines, not everyone could always participate in everything. It was an honest and sincere admission and the group clearly tried to do only what everyone could do. I knew then that I had found a unique group of pastors.
The group meets not only for the monthly business meeting, but also tries to meet for lunch each Wednesday for support and theological discussions. Regretably, I haven't been able to attend many of these lunches but the ones I have attended have been enjoyable, both in terms of the support and the openess to share and learn more about each other's respective faiths.
I will miss this group and thank them very much for their friendship. I know that we will remain in contact with each other because the group wants me to attend at least a few of their meetings and offer little catecheses on various topics. If the schedule permits, I will happily do so.