Pastor's Pen
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October 13, 2014, 10:02 AM

I Hate Change

I Hate Change!


   This past Friday, I moderated my last Presbytery meeting for Indian Nations Presbytery (some 60 churches) in the central section of Oklahoma. It was an honor to serve in this capacity, but it meant many miles on the road and more than a few meetings that I needed to attend. In this year I found pretty much what we all know: many congregations face difficult challenges in our changing times. Yet, it is crucial, I think, to note that the challenges are not overwhelming the important work congregations do in and for the communities in which they are located.

   Just look at our own community and the churches that are visible in serving. The congregations that I know about and count the ministers I know as colleagues, are engaged in incredible work serving their memberships and community! If you were to remove these churches from our community, much of the fabric of society would fall apart. It is a very important connective role that our congregations play in our community as in all communities!

    Most of the congregations that I have served are what one could call “older congregations.” By that, I mean the church has been where it is for a hundred years or more and the average age of the membership is around seventy. And we know that many folks in such congregations resist change of any kind. But I also think that a case can be made for their incredible adaptability. For many people, change produces fear, anxiety and hopelessness. But change can also generate hope. And as we face our need to see the changes that are coming, we can pray that God will rekindle the fires of hope within us, institutionally and personally. Hope opens our eyes to fresh, exciting, new possibilities to serve God and the world.

   I’m not sure who the author is, but someone said, “Change doesn’t bother me; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Churches may not want change, but they understand that change happens. We may long for the past, but we are trying to serve God in the present.

   “Grumpier Old Men” is one of my favorite movies! In the movie, Max Goldman (Walter Matthau) and Marie Sophia Coletta Ragetti (Sophia Loren) eventually become friends and marry.  Marie has moved to town and opened a restaurant where the old bait shop used to be located. Max isn’t in favor of that and while on their first date, Max says, “I hate change” to which Marie replies, “Well, change is what brought me to Wabasha.” And Max eventually capitulates. I believe that many folks in our churches “hate” change … but change happens! May God give us the grace, understand and wisdom to deal with it when it comes. 10.12.2014

Dr. Rick Baggett is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore (the church with the bells) and can be reached at:




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