This Sunday one year ago I stood before you for the first time as I was introduced as your new Senior Pastor. Has it gone by as quickly for you as it has for Amy and me? In so many ways it seems as if it were just a few weeks ago.
Since that very special Sunday one year ago I have observed and learned much about this wonderful church. I learned very quickly that the people of Madison Street are proud people with a great heritage which is exemplified in numerous ways, but in my observation none more profoundly than in the way you persevered after the immense destruction of the tornado of 1999. Watching the video that Don Birdwell shared with me that was created right after the tornado showing the devastation made me more aware of who this church really is. People here don’t give up. People here know what it means to lean on a strength greater than their own. People here know the meaning of walking in faith.
But I also observed that the people of Madison Street are not satisfied to live in the past. I learned that this is a loving congregation with a desire to move forward and to do what it takes to do just that. Moving forward takes desire and the willingness to step up and to make necessary changes. I have asked us, challenged us to do some things differently, and in every single case the people of Madison Street have stepped forward. Our attendance has increased dramatically. We have received over 100 new members into our fellowship. We increased our pledges by almost 28%, all of which has helped us take a much needed step forward.
I observed a congregation thirsty for the study of the Scriptures. We started a new Wednesday Night Supper and Bible Study Service called THRIVE! and from the very beginning we filled up the Fellowship Hall with folks excited about digging deeply into the Scriptures. We resume this ministry in September and look forward to even greater participation because of your shared excitement. In addition we will start a new Sunday School class that I will teach called the Pastor’s Class which will begin in September.
I observed people with a desire to live a better story, people who wanted something different in their life, something more meaningful. We launched our Living A Better Story Series and Experience and since that time we have received story after story of folks like us allowing God to use us beyond our imagination. And those stories are still coming in. I observed people willing to do something different!
But most importantly of all, I observed and experienced loving and accepting people who are excited about our church and enthusiastic about sharing that excitement and telling others about what’s going on here. So just keep doing it, will you? It’s been a wonderful year. Amy and I are grateful for you and we look forward to all God has in store for us.
God’s not through with us, yet!
Cliff C. Wright, Jr.