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To follow Godís calling

Rev. Andrew Peck-McClain
Trinity United Methodist Church

(9/1) What a privilege it is to introduce myself to Emmitsburg and the surrounding communities today. I am Rev. Andrew Peck-McClain, or Pastor Andy, the new pastor at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Emmitsburg. I want thank the people of Trinity for their warm welcome this summer. My family has not only moved to Maryland, we have also welcomed a baby. Ezra Charles Peck-McClain was born on June 26 and is doing well, healthy, and growing.

In addition to Ezra, my wife Emily and I have two older children. ZoŽ is 6 and Phoebe is 3. They bring a lot of love to Ezra, caring for their baby brother. Emily is a seminary professor at Wesley Theological School in Northwest Washington D.C. We moved to Maryland from Harrisonburg, Virginia, where Emily taught at Eastern Mennonite Seminary and I pastored the Mt. Clinton UMC. We are glad to have found a house in Rockville, Maryland, where both Emily and I can head out to the communities we are called to serve.

In my time working as pastor of United Methodist churches, I have learned and grown with lots of people. Our life has taken us to a wonderful variety of places from the fast pace of Manhattan and Staten Island to the towering mountains and farmland of Harrisonburg. The beauty of the Hudson Valley, north of New York City, to the vibrant city of Durham, NC. In all these places, with such a variety of people, one constant remains Ė we are all people. We all celebrate joys and suffer hurts in life. We are reminded of our brokenness, yet hope for wholeness. In the middle of all of life, I continue to discover the presence of the God in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

I grew up in the Hudson Valley and was nudged to consider ministry as a teenager by some pastors who saw gifts and graces in me. I am always appreciative of that nurturing presence, but cannot say that I signed right up and started seminary out of college. I wrestled with the call, honestly trying to discern where God was leading me. Yes, maybe avoiding it a little bit. But trying to best put to use a love of working with teenagers, whether as a school teacher or a youth pastor.

I finally found myself at Drew Theological School in the fall of 2000. I had said that I would go to see if thatís where I needed to be. And if seminary was not where God was leading me, I would know. Pretty quickly, I could tell that seminary was the place where I had been called. Through struggles came growth, and as I was stretched I also was drawn deeper to Godís presence. I graduated in 2005 and was been appointed as a United Methodist pastor in 2006.

As I mentioned, life has taken Emily and I to a variety of places. We have moved from Manhattan to Staten Island to Durham to Cornwall (NY) to Harrisonburg to Maryland. Our hope is to be a little less nomadic! We have appreciated sharing life alongside doctors at Duke Medical and truck drivers in Rockingham County, Virginia. In all, we have tried to find the best in our wanderings. In each place, we have sensed Godís unique presence for that time, that corner of the world.

The Israelites similarly felt like journeying people. They spent 40 years in the wilderness, and some were later taken into exile during the Babylonian conquest. In all, the people of Israel tried and tried to find Godís presence. Sometimes they connected, other times it was hard, and a golden calf turned their gaze from the Creator.

So it is for all of us. I believe we earnestly seek to be in relationship with God. Right relationship with God. Yet as humans we find ourselves tripping up. Sometimes we get it, and we savor those moments. Other times we look back and realize how far from Godís welcoming embrace we really were.

For me, practices like silence and listening to God while outdoors help me to stay close to God. My spiritual life was deeply enriched by a Personal Spiritual Deepening Program with the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Growth in 2016. (For more information, visit www.shalem.org) I gained more insight into ongoing spiritual practices. And learned of different ways to worship a God who creates beauty while gathered in community. I continue to be fed when reading contemplative voices and adoring Godís handiwork on College Mountain here in Emmitsburg.

At the end of the day, life is a journey. It is God who journeys with us as the people of Trinity UMC, in the midst of the high points of life. It is the risen Christ who nourishes the people who follow Jesus, giving strength during times of struggle. It is the Holy Spirit who sustains the church, bringing transformation and challenging the church to more fully love our neighbors.

As the church, that is my hope for what we can be. The God who leads us hopes that we too can journey with others in all the parts of their lives. At Trinity, we hope to welcome others who have yet to taste of Godís goodness. The doors are open and all are welcome to join us.

We gather for worship at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings at 313 W. Main Street in Emmitsburg. We sing some traditional hymns, like Standing on the Promises or How Great Thou Art. We sing some newer songs with the help of the guitar, like God of Wonders or Shine, Jesus, Shine. I have found the community at Trinity to be very warm and supportive of one another as joy and concerns are lifted. And when my sermon gets boring, thereís wonderful stained glass around the sanctuary to look at!

Trinity also has ways to be involved outside Sunday morning worship. Our Community Meals will return on September 27 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. We also have evening Healing Services every quarter, with one in Advent this December focusing on healing in times of darkness. This past summer, we had three evenings of Adult Vacation Bible School, with singing, crafts and toys to take home. The theme was God in the galaxy, and it was a blast! We also had movie nights on Friday evenings, and two pool parties for our Rock Solid children. We look forward to those summertime God sightings again in the summer of 2018. For more information about our church, visit us at www.trinityumcemmitsburg.com or call (301)447-3740. You can also email me at pastor.trinityeburg@gmail.com.

I look forward to getting to know all the people of Emmitsburg and beyond. I have shared a little bit of my journey with God with you here. Send me an email and share some of yours. It doesnít need to be all candy canes and roses. God can be revealed to us in our times of suffering or vulnerability. I have found that in those times in my life, the people who have pointed Godís sustaining presence to me are extremely valuable.

Come and walk alongside us. Come and look for the presence of God, the one in whom we live and move and have our being. Join us at Trinity, as we seek to grow together, loving our neighbor just as God loves us. Come, taste and see that God is good.

Read other thoughtful writings by Rev. Andrew Peck-McClain