From the Pastor

A Message From Pastor Miranda Dinges

I am so excited to be joining the Northwest family in just a few days. Everything I’ve heard from your leadership, former pastor, and District Superintendent shows me that you are agood church. You have set out to do great things in your community and I am excited to partner with you. I hope and pray that together we can grow spiritually, enhancing our discipleship and expanding the horizons of ministry. As I get to know each of you, I beg your forgiveness as well. I want to be up front that I am horrible with names. I promise that I will learn who you are! I feel as though we are setting out on a new adventure together and I am overjoyed to begin this journey with you.

As I write this article, I can’t help but notice the forlorn look on my dog, Niko’s, face. I rescued Niko three and a half years ago while living in Kankakee. Just like every other dog, Niko has his quirks. He doesn’t really like grass and will avoid it until a squirrel comes along to chase. He also prefers to bury treats in the couch for later snacking. One of his less than desirable traits is how he deals with stress. I knew this move would be difficult for him, but it’s still hard to watch him refuse to eat as a response to change. I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t deal with change well either. I don’t stop eating like Niko, but the stress of change is difficult for me. I remember crying every time I went back to college or home from college every year. As I have grown into adulthood, my response to change has also matured, and at the same time, it seems like I may never be good at change.

Some of you may be wondering at this point if I’m in the right profession. I am told the average tenure of a pastor in our conference is 5 years. I experienced enough moves with my pastor dad to know that is probably just about right. However, I didn’t enter the ministry because of the constant change. I entered ministry because of the unchangeable God I follow. I didn’t makea commitment to a city or house, I’ve made a commitment to the God who loves me and will use me to love the world.

I say all this because I want you to know that I understand change is hard. Rev. Kim Dancey has blessed your church with her presence. She’s ministered to you and your families. She’s loved you with the love of God. You, as a church, found direction under her leadership and have begun to heal in ways you were desperate for. I am humbled to follow in the footsteps of such a giant woman of faith and leadership. You’ve had time to come to terms with Rev. Kim’s retirement, and yet, now reality is setting in. Everything will seem different for a while. And that’s okay.

At the end of the book of the Deuteronomy, the people of Israel are ready to enter the Promised Land. Moses can’t go in because he made a few mistakes, along with his entire generation. So, it’s time for the leader he’s been training for decades to come forward and take the helm. Joshua has gone from errand boy to leader of Israel. Moses stands before all the people of Israel and says these words (Deut. 31:6): “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of [the inhabitants of the land], for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Then he turns to Joshua and says nearly the very same thing (Deut. 31:7-8): “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

As we begin this new journey together, I want to remind you that the very same God who entered the Promised Land with the Israelites is with us. We are not alone as we embark on this change that can be scary, but also is the path that leads us closer to God. So, as I cling to the words of God, I challenge you to do the same. No matter what happens at Northwest or in your own life, be strong and courageous, for God is with you.In Christ’s Love,Pastor Mirand

In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Miranda