My dear church,
As I sit at my desk in my church study, I look out the window. The sun is shining, the yellow Black-eyed Susan’s are blooming, the crispness of fall is in the air, and my heart is full as I think back. I grew up in Ohio, I went to both Pilgrim and Temped Hills as a kid and youth. I love them. They are “thin places” for me. Summer church camp is where I received my call to ministry. I attended youth activities and learned my faith from the beginning here in Ohio. I have taught school in Ohio, and three of the four churches I have served as pastor have been in Ohio. My family lives here. Ohio is my home. So when I was asked if I would be moderator of the wider church in Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky, I agreed and never realized how challenging, hard and life-giving it would be.
I have been your moderator for two years, and after the Annual Gathering, I move to past moderator, and Cathy Green takes over as moderator. The last two years have been showered with the Spirit as we have made some really hard decisions. I have lead with God’s grace, being authentic and transparent. At times my heart broke with the decisions that needed to be made. With the Spirit of God moving through us, the Board of Directors worked hard to discern how God is calling us now.
The Romans text, below, reminds me that God has given us gifts, and we need to use those gifts, that it is a necessity to be the body of Christ together. We are to be transformed.
“For as in one body we have many members, and not all members have the same function, so we who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teach, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity: the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.” (Romans12:4-8; NRSV)
At times, these two years have been challenging. At times, they have been filled with hope. At times, we have discuss so much. At times, I have had read and responded to much correspondence in which you have shared with your thoughts and ideas. At other times, we have allowed silence to fill the room with the breath of God. Your elected Board of Directors, officers and staff have worked hard to be the church in this place at this time.
I thank you for the opportunity to serve in this way.
Blessings abound as we continue to hear God working with and through us.
Rev. Melinda Quellhorst
Pastor Grace United Church of Christ
Moderator Ohio Conference