2016 was a year of transition for us as we at WPBC regrouped after Tom Eden’s long tenure as pastor. We called 2016 a time of “liminal space” and within this space we looked for how the Spirit of God would move and direct us. As much as we wished God would lay out a clear path so we would know what lay behind every bend in the journey, he did not. Instead we learned in new and marvelous ways how God leads his children by faith. When I look back at 2016 and all that God had done- during all the uncertainty and the many decisions- I have one word, Awe. God’s work in our lives was amazing. God took us down this journey to grow us up, prepare us, and raise up new leaders in the church. He has prepared us for the next chapter. But most of all, we testify that this liminal space has brought God glory.
God desires to use this weak rag tag group of Woodruffians to shine his light like crazy to proclaim his kingdom. We testify that when we are weak, he is strong. The fact that we have been in our changing community for over 120 years and have thrived through this transition is a testimony to the Lord’s strength and faithfulness. It is lesson to remember as we embark on our next chapter. We have been called to leave this liminal space for yet another liminal space. Such is the adventure of faith. Are we all not called to live outside our comfort zones, in liminal spaces, so we would lean more on Christ? May we never get lax in our faith!
In 2016 God blessed us with a wonderful year of renovation. Our building renovation is a physical expression of what God has been doing in our congregational life. Several groups assisted us with repairs, like First Baptist Church of Douglassville who refurbished our church sign and installed lights for it. The renovations helped us welcome back Youthworks for the summer. Together we provided a dynamic opportunity for hundreds of teenagers to grow deeper in their faith while staying in our church building. It was wonderful to build some great relationships with the young staff and provide for them a context of incarnational urban ministry.
At the end of 2016, we have welcomed our new pastor, Ron Nunez, who moved from the San Francisco Bay Area. (That’s another faith journey I’d love to tell share!) Our church stood ready and expectant for what Christ will do as we embraced Pastor Ron and his family and showed them true Woodruffians hospitality. The church rallied behind the process and we had a lot of fun getting their new home ready and welcoming them to Indianapolis. We joked at their willingness to move from the warm Bay Area in the middle of our cold Midwestern January. But such is faith, it has us do some strange things.
Pastor Ron’s background is diverse and urban. He has straddled social and racial differences in the two churches he has pastored while navigating those churches toward community and outreach. In addition, he has spent the last two years working with people who have mental illness to guide them in their life choices. God has prepared his heart to value how we model our ministry in Christ through intentional community. This was immediately apparent upon their family’s visit. It was if they had come home.
Pastor Ron has already called us further into discipleship. He has the experience to engage our extremely diverse context- smack dab in the middle of the city. He also has the attitude to listen and learn as he takes on a new leadership role. Please pray with us for the new liminal space we have entered with our new lead pastor.
The high call of ministry on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis is a wonderful privilege for us. We delight in the ways God is working in our church and neighborhood. We proclaim there is a still small voice that endures through our bullhorn sounding culture. Indeed, the mustard seed revolution will have its way. The word of God will not return void. We sing that truth loud and clear in our worship. We are the people who sing- who love to sing with our lives the gospel story. Together we praise God in our Woodruffian way.
Pastor of Community Outreach, Woodruff Place Baptist Church