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.