The first diagnosis of the coronavirus occurred in the State of Washington January, 2020. Now the world is reeling from its devastating effects and a vaccine to prevent it may not be available until sometime next year. The lives of everyone have been dramatically altered and what we have known as normal may be a thing of the past.
By mid-March, we were forced to cease public worship and rely on internet worship. Seniors, and that is 95% of our congregation, are in the most vulnerable category. We now know that no one is exempt from the disease.
Before the virus hit, Gloria and I had been praying about our ministry at Crabtree. Both of us recognize the special blessing that God has given us over the past five years to serve first as a supply pastor, then as interim pastor for 9 months and since March, 2016 as Pastor. Our love for you has grown as we have shared the challenges of bringing stability to the church, feeding the sheep, caring for one another and involving our church family in fruitful mission endeavors. We have accomplished those goals. Financially we are stronger. Spiritually we have seen people grow in the Lord. In Missions we are serving more people through Hope Pantry, our hygiene kit project for hurricane victims is in its 3rd year and perhaps the most notable ministry of all is establishing the Welcome House for refugees. And we have restored the Youth Ministry thanks to God’s leadership in the life of Ashley Walker.
After considerable thought and prayer, Gloria and I feel that the time has come for us to pass the mantle to younger leadership. We have served the Lord in ministry either as pastor or missionary for 61 years. Both of us have health issues that put us at great risk in these uncertain times. Originally, we thought of stepping down at the end of December 2019, but some how we felt the Lord saying “no”. I had actually written a retirement letter which I planned to present to the church on March 29, with an effective date of April, 30. Then, Covid 19 struck with force. Under the circumstances, we could not proceed with retirement plans. Our thought was that in three to four months things would return to normal, we could get back together and then step down. But as we all know that hasn’t happened.
Recognizing our physical limitations and realizing that we cannot possibly hold out until in-person worship is feasible again, we feel that we must now announce our retirement effective August 23, 2020. We did not want our ministry to end in this way. But we are not in control. As you have heard me say on numerous occasions, “We do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.” Those are words uttered many years ago by Dr. George W. Truett, one of the greatest Baptist ministers and statesmen our country has ever known. They are words of truth.
Our future and the future of CVBC is not in our hands but in God’s. Both of us must lean on Him. We must trust Him with all our hearts, lean not unto our own understanding but in all our ways acknowledge him and He will direct our paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Thank you for your understanding and prayers. Thank you for the love and support that you have given Gloria and Me. We have always been partners in ministry. Second to God, Gloria has been the wind under my wings. Nothing I have ever accomplished could have been done without her love, wise counsel and support. You will certainly be in our thoughts and prayers as you move forward to better days. God Bless you.
In His Love, Charles & Gloria