Back in September 2005 the Session of Community Presbyterian Church interviewed Stokes Skellie to be our youth / music director. Stokes came to the interview with his wife, Connie, and they both played their instruments and sang for us. With little, if any, discussion we decided to hire Stokes. Might have been the easiest decision the Session has had to make in the past 10 years!
Well, this Sunday marks the end of the Skellie's 10 years of ministry to and with Community Church. To be honest it's not a day I'm excited about. Yes, it's the Lord's Day and I will once again look to Christ to be my joy, hope, satisfaction, and life. But it'll be difficult knowing it's the last day we'll enjoy, who I believe to be, the best worship leader among all the PCA churches in the B'ham area and undoubtedly in all the PCA. Stokes and Connie are unique folks who have absolutely blessed the socks off all those to whom they've ministered over these past 10 years.
I must admit I've struggled with their decision to leave. I've gone through seasons of feeling nauseated, dealing with anger, blaming myself, doubting we can recover, etc. At times over the past couple of months I've not been pleasant to be around - irritable, grouchy, discouraged, hurt, etc. I've had to spend a good bit of time in prayer asking God to show me my ugly heart and help me understand what's going on inside myself. God has graciously shown me a couple of things. First, He's reminded me that Community is His church ... not mine, not Stokes', not anyone's except His. He will take care of His church and provide for us. That doesn't mean we'll find someone who can match the talent of Stokes and Connie but that's not necessarily what we need. God knows what we need and He will graciously provide. One of the things we'll encounter in 1 Samuel 12 is that God is motivated by "his great name's sake" as opposed to mine or yours or Stokes'. He will be glorified in His church. We don't know exactly how He's going to do that, but we know He will. The second thing I've discovered is that it's my job and joy to see good folks leave Community and engage in other ministry works that need the things we've enjoyed here. I learned this in an exhortation from Ron Landry. I was lamenting to Ron about the Skellies' leaving and he suggested I be excited about it. I think I said something ugly to him but he graciously forgave me! He then said, "If you're not excited about them leaving Community and going to another place to serve the Lord then you have failed them as a Pastor and have not equipped them to do what God is leading them to do." I'd rather him have hit me with a baseball bat because that's not how I wanted to feel that day. I was enjoying the sorrow, self-pity, and worry. Ron jacked me up pretty good and made me consider the primacy of the Gospel as opposed to my own agenda.
Don't get me wrong, I still don't want the Skellies to leave ... I'll still be sad ... I'm not looking forward to the search process of finding his replacement (or replacements). But I do trust that in some small way I have helped equip and prepare the Skellie family for their future ministry in Helena and wherever else the Lord may take them in years to come. In that and in the confidence that our Lord will provide for our needs here at CPC, I look forward to the coming months and years. God, for His great name's sake, will be glorified and His church will be taken care of.
And speaking of the Skellies ... don't forget this Sunday night's church-wide supper to honor them. We'll start at 6:00. Bring a main dish and a side/salad/or dessert.