First Presbyterian Church of Merrillville
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Go and Make Disciples!

Rev. Anderson is also the Pastor at Dyer Presbyterian Church.

         

June 15th of this year will mark my sixth year as your pastor, my 37th year in ordained ministry, and my 42nd year in pastoral ministry, which includes my years serving as a student pastor.  I have served most of those years as a pastor in northwest Indiana, in six different churches and three different denominations.  I have also had the opportunity to be involved in our family business, work as a news director and on-air personality with four different radio stations, staff member at social service agency, and adjunct professor of history at two of our local universities.  During the last ten years or so, I have been learning what it means to be a Presbyterian pastor and the distinctives of Presbyterian polity and ecclesiastical life.  I can say with a great deal of certainty, as the result of my varied experiences, that pastoral ministry in the various denominations is almost exactly similar, but how things are labeled and some of the procedures that are followed are unique to each particular group.  It has been the most profound privilege of my life to be in pastoral ministry.  I felt called to the ministry when I was in high school and it has been the center of my entire adult life.  Being a pastor to the people I have served has been my joy.  Being your pastor for the last six years has been one of the great

privileges and joys my entire ministry.  Thank you for letting me be your pastor. 

As I have reported in previous years, the worship service for both congregations is still working very well.  Your willingness to accommodate the schedule, while necessary, is still admirable and appreciated by me and the Dyer congregation.  I appreciate so much the efforts by Elder Carolyn Meinbresse, the worship committee, and all the other elders and deacons who serve in the worship service.  I can say without any bias that our readers and worship helpers do an

excellent job.  I only wish that I could stay and greet everyone after the service. 

We were able to continue to be in shared ministry together for both our Lenten Bible Study and the Fall Bible Study.  Each Wednesday, during Lent, we alternated between the two churches with each evening beginning with a Soup Supper and Fellowship.   Through Holy Week we rotated services between the two congregations beginning with The Maundy Thursday Service at First Presbyterian (FPC), Good Friday Service was at Dyer, The Easter Vigil was celebrated at FPC  and then each congregation had their Easter Sunday Worship.   It should be noted that we had an excellent program with our largest turnout to date at the Passover Seder celebrated on Palm Sunday evening at FPC.  There were people from at least five different congregations and Dr. Terry Harmon gave us really good material for the background and understanding of the

Passover meal.  We look forward to replicating that event this year on Palm Sunday.

As you know. the realities of our congregational life at First Presbyterian makes having a part-time Pastor necessary for keeping our finances in line and within a realistic and workable budget.  It is important to understand that this is not particular to our FPC but is the reality for many other Presbyterian congregations in our Presbytery and across the country as well as for other churches in various denominations.  As a way of defraying costs we have worked very hard at utilizing rental space by having other congregations nest with us and occasional building usage in order to assist with building maintenance costs.  I also think that being open to allowing other Christian congregations the use our building is in line with our values as the Church of Jesus Christ and make a very positive witness to our community and world.  We have a quite special relationship with a church that is currently nesting with us and I have developed a relationship with a pastor that rented office space from us.  He confided in me that the rented office space at FPC was very beneficial for his marriage and family.  We don’t often think of renting space as

ministry but it can be and it certainly has been in these cases.

Feeding the Flock continues to be a very vital, effective and profound ministry in this community. We share this ministry with 15 other congregations that span across all denominations, as well as several service clubs and organizations.  We are hopeful that at some point we might even be able to expand this ministry to Wednesday evening.  We are hoping and have several commitments to get additional support from community groups to assist with the

food donations, food preparation and food service.   

Through our association with The Congregations of Merrillville, we participated in two events this year.  First was Cruise Night held here at First Presbyterian last June.  This was the fourth  year for Cruise Night and it has been a great success.  Several motor clubs were contacted and were able to have their memberships bring vintage and unusual cars to be shown.  There was plenty of food to go around and a great bake sale.  Second, the 5th Annual Feeding the Flock Fashion Show was the biggest to date ending with a profit of over $10,000.  It was once again a tremendous fund-raising event because of the efforts of so many in this congregation.  We also started bringing donuts to our first responders each month.  First Responders Sunday was held on October 27th and money was collected and given to the EMT’s. We will continue to be active in the Congregations of Merrillville in 2019 with our participation and leadership. 

 

I have the pleasure of continuing to work with and support The Stephen Ministers who do a fantastic job in taking gentle care of members in our congregation that have faced or are facing a major crisis in their lives and continue to support my role as a part-time Pastor.  This is a dedicated team who give freely of their time and efforts to help where they are needed both

within our membership and the outside community. 

One of my biggest joys in life is teaching and each Wednesday I have the pleasure of leading our Bible Study group.  I always look forward to planning new Bible studies and as the year goes forward, working with the Bible Study Team.  We will continue to investigate activities and

programs that would be beneficial to this congregation.

I want to remember three of our members, George Taseff, Betty Shatkowski, and Irene Novoa.  who have passed on from the “Church militant on earth” to the “Church triumphant in heaven.”  On a personal note, I lost my older brother, Mike Anderson, to cancer on September 1st and

appreciated the sensitivity of the church to my grief at that time and later.

I also need to acknowledge and thank Carolyn Meinbresse in particular and all the others who put forth so much effort in helping the important ministry we do here at FPC.  It always amazes me to see how willing and eager people are to help make the things we do possible.  In all that we do, may it be done in and through our Lord Jesus Christ to the glory of God.

 

Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be the glory)

 

Rev. Paul R. Anderson, Pastor