ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN 2017
By: Timothy Kays
It isn’t just any day that Pastor Randy Evers comes before his congregation at Solid Rock Community Church and blows a shofar. The shofar, the traditional Hebraic ram’s horn trumpet, has been sounded only once before by Pastor Evers, as he reserves it exclusively for very special occasions.
Services on the morning of September 24 called for Pastor Evers and his shofar, for this was a banner day in the history of the Solid Rock Community Church congregation. On this day, a packed house with faces old and new celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the congregation.
“We want to make sure that we aren’t just celebrating Tyson (former Associate Pastor Nofziger) and Mike (former Lead Pastor Beasley) coming back,” Pastor Evers said. “Hallelujah for that! I’m thrilled that we get to see them again, talk with them and enjoy their presence. It’s not just about people…that’s the church. It’s to the glory of Jesus Christ. Fifty years this church has been making an impact in this region and around this area, and we pray that it might do it some more.”
After a five minute video presentation documenting the history of the church from Evangelical Mennonite congregation in 1967, to Fellowship of Evangelical Churches member today, Pastor Evers read aloud a communiqué from Noah Zapf, a former Student Pastor who served from 2004 to 2009. Mr. Zapf shared his congratulations and memories, and also his deepest regrets at being unable to attend in person.
To the pulpit then came Tyson Nofziger, the former Associate Pastor of Solid Rock Community Church. He spoke of his history, beginning with his hiring as the church youth pastor. Before he could begin at what he considered to be a dream job, he was informed that the church decided to go a different direction, hiring Mr. Zapf to the post. His disappointment was short lived though, as he was offered and subsequently accepted the Associate Pastor post of the congregation. Nofziger went on to talk about how the hand of God was ever present in the building expansion, and several of the ways that it was plainly obvious.
With construction costs more than double the planned maximum, coincidental events that led to significant cost reductions began to materialize. With things like surplus construction materials found in a field that were not just perfect fits for the new building, they were also upgrades over the original materials, and came at a significant savings over the original materials. It was obvious that this was no coincidence when more and more of these lower cost upgrades began to appear. By the time the building project was completed, the costs, complete with the premium additions, were cut to below budget. This was indeed no coincidence.
Mike Beasley then came to the podium. He served as Lead Pastor from 2001 to 2008, after which he answered a call to return to serve in the American military. Today, he is serving as a United States Naval Chaplain in England. As he arrived at the podium, Beasley was receiving a standing ovation from the packed audience. He came forward with tissue in hand, and without delay he put it to use. The first thing he did was add some levity by saying, “Ten years hasn’t been good to some of y’all.” The laughter quickly faded as Beasley, with tears now flowing and voice trembling, fondly recalled a congregant that he wanted to see, George Beatty of West Unity, who succumbed to cancer just two days prior. With that, Beasley launched into a soul-baring sermon that fixed the attention of the congregation for the duration.
Lieutenant Beasley stunned the congregation by saying that he could spend a lot of time going over the memories of his tenure, but quickly added, “We could spend even more time talking about what I regret. I look at some of your faces this morning, and I see and remember so many ways that I failed you. When you were in crisis or in difficulty, and I, either in some awkward self-centeredness, or maybe in an inability to know what to say or what to do…so you just retreat to that fallback plan where you don’t do anything. I look at that title…Lead Pastor.”
“I never felt like a leader. You were blessed with some great people, and you are blessed with some great people today who are leaders. Tyson did not say this, and he may not remember it, but I didn’t want to be a Lead Pastor. I knew though, that what we needed as a church, is what he brought…the ability to lead.” The congregation listened in stunned silence at this confession.
Beasley then took a different tack, changing direction to show that even in his shortcomings, the true leader of the Solid Rock Community Church has always been Jesus Christ. He focused upon the first chapter of Revelations, noting specifically that Christ walks amongst His churches, and that it is the height of arrogance for any congregation to say that they invite Him into what is, and always has been, His already.
The ministerial preaching power of Lieutenant Beasley began a dynamic crescendo, bringing the congregation that filled the chapel along with him to the point that, upon his conclusion, they had seemingly forgotten his earlier confessions of failure in a new spirit of uplifting motivation. What began in tears and regretful confession, ended in a Spirit-driven, high note of positive, inspirational power.
After being fed spiritually, the congregation was fed physically…and fed very well. A hog roast, with salads, drinks, and desserts of ice cream and four varieties of anniversary cake were awaiting. An afternoon of food, fellowship and fun capped off a day of joyful reflection and reunion. The first fifty years are in the books, and the members of the Solid Rock Community Church are looking forward to moving forward under the lead of Christ.
Timothy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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