You may have noticed that I’m pregnant!
I say that in jest, as I’m now officially considered “full term” and today am marking 37 weeks along in my pregnancy. Preparing for our new arrival involves everything from picking a name (still thinking!), completing a nursery (still working on it!), and emotionally readying ourselves to become a family of five (is one EVER emotionally ready for that?!). All in all, no matter where we are on the ‘readiness’ scale, Josh and I are beyond overjoyed to meet this little one and welcome a new baby boy into our family.
Ironically, I’m perhaps most prepared for our impending arrival in my work here at church! Much like raising a child, stepping away from hourly/daily/weekly responsibilities of pastoring takes a village, and I am so grateful for the village - staff, the Personnel Committee, and lay leaders in particular - who are making it possible for me to do so. I wanted to take this space to let all of you know about ‘what to expect’ (pun intended!) in the coming weeks ahead.
First of all, should baby arrive around his expected due date of October 20, I will be out of the office for five weeks and the pulpit for five Sundays. In those weeks, you are in for a preaching treat! You will be joined by familiar faces and voices in preaching, ones who will stimulate and challenge your thinking in these fall weeks. The schedule for preachers will be:
October 23 - David Hull, Interim Pastor at FBC Augusta, GA (and yes, my dear dad!)
October 30 - Amy McClure, Associate Pastor for Children, Seniors, and Pastoral Care
November 6 - David Hughes, Executive Director of The Transforming Center and beloved former pastor of First Baptist Church on Fifth
November 13 - Jenna Sullivan, Pastoral Intern at First Baptist and second-year student at Wake Forest University School of Divinity
November 20 - Larry Hovis, Executive Director for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina and interim preacher of First Baptist Church on Fifth
Should baby arrive early, I have standby preachers at the ready!
Second of all, for the daily rhythms of ministerial and administrative leadership in these five weeks, you will be in the best of all possible hands. I don’t have to convince a single one of you of the incredible capacity and reach of our staff! David, Amy M, Amy T, Sally, John, Steve, Cynthia, and Jenna will keep our shared work of ministry moving forward and thriving this fall. I have prepared the various committees and ministry teams that I work with of my upcoming absence, and their capable chairs and leaders will continue their work in this season.
Third of all, our Wednesday night fellowship gatherings will welcome a variety of voices and topics this fall. Following the conclusion of our “Being a Faithful Church” series on October 19, we will celebrate autumn with our annual Fall Festival on October 26. Our dear friend Dr. Bill Leonard, Dunn Professor of Baptist Studies and Church History at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, will join us for a three-week series called “A Shelter of Conscience: Baptist Identity and American Politics” on November 2, 9, and 16. In these weeks surrounding the election, we will be expertly led by the preeminent Baptist and church historian to make meaning of our uniquely Baptist response in this moment of our country’s life together. More to come on this exciting series in the weeks ahead! As is our custom on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we’ll take November 23 off and gather again the following week.
Finally, the unpredictable nature of labor and delivery has many of you asking our staff about what our plan will be should I go into labor on a Sunday or Wednesday when we are gathered. Please be assured that we will respond with a good deal of common sense! I’ll do as countless woman do when going into labor - gather helpers around, go to the hospital, and bring life into the world. As it is for any of us when dealing with bodily changes or the need for medical care, I trust you understand the way in which it can feel exposing, even among friends. Know that I receive your questions in the spirit of love and concern in which they are offered, and gratefully return back to you the same respect you have granted to me.
We are so delighted to celebrate our baby’s birth with you, our beloved community! We’ll send out word after his arrival (and pictures, of course!), and will look forward to bringing him to church soon thereafter to meet you.
I will be back fully in the pulpit on the first Sunday of Advent, November 27, and will resume time in the office that next day. My weekday work schedule will remain flexible throughout December - working from home a little more than usual, traveling to see family over the Christmas holidays - and my sweet boy will begin his full-time care at our wonderful Children’s Center on January 3.
In all the preparation, I am struck again and again by the reminder that our God is an incarnational God. In the fully human, vulnerable state of swollen ankles and discomfort and unknown timing for delivery, Mary brought forth the son of God into this world. This baby boy is no Jesus, but I remain ever grateful in these late-term days that it is through the beautiful, messy, unpredictable, abundant joy of birth that Hope was delivered, Peace was made known, Joy arrived, and Love became flesh.
Together in the work of Love,