File this one under, “Strange but true.”

     Today I was introduced to the congregation of Birchwood Presbyterian Church as “Managing Pastor.” The details: This is planned to be a six-month opportunity. I will be serving as Head of Staff and Moderator of Session. Simply put I will be overseeing the day-to-day life and ministry of the congregation. Pastor Bruce Becker is entering a process of transition related to health concerns and I will be helping the congregation through the time of change.

     So much for details. The deeper story is that Birchwood ( is the church that Connie and I joined soon after moving to Bellingham in 1979. Birchwood was our extended family for near twenty years. Our kids considered Birchwood a second home and people cared for us in exceptional ways. Friendships were formed, many of which have now lasted well over thirty years. In 1985 I joined the staff and served until 1997. The “end” was a time of conflicting emotions. I knew it was time for transition but struggled with the finality of “leaving.”

     Last week, while the details were being finalized, I thought of the Genesis story of Sarah laughing when informed she would have a child after untold years of waiting and disappointment. Something that was beyond possible was becoming reality. I think that if at any time, in the years since I left Birchwood, you told me I would be returning, I would have laughed. Well, It’s January 2014 and tomorrow morning I’ll be checking in to the office at Birchwood Church.

     I’m not sure who’s getting a better laugh out of this, God or me.


Life’s Little Surprises

A few weeks ago the local Presbytery Exec asked if I would consider helping as a Coach with congregations in transition. I agreed to consider the possibility and attend an initial training. Within a few days I went from being open to the possibility to being matched with a church. 

The surprise is the church I am now matched with is Birchwood Presbyterian In 1997 I finished twelve years as a staff member at Birchwood. It was the place where Connie and grew through our young adult years, settled into Bellingham, became parents, raised our sons, experienced community and, hopefully, matured as ministry leaders.

I’m thinking both Birchwood Church and I have changed greatly in the past sixteen years. I’m looking forward to this time of reconnecting and trust I’ll be able to help them in their transformation process toward a hopeful new future.