Dear First Methodist Family,

I don’t normally title my newsletter articles, but if I did, I would put “Transitions” as the title of this article.  That is the season First Methodist Waco is in, and that is the season the Ramsdell family is in.  Leadership transitions are a big deal for a church. (My last Sunday as your Senior Pastor is June 25th  and my family will all be in worship that day.  It’s rare we are all in one place at one time, and we are looking forward to the one worship service.  I hope everyone is prepared for a one-year-old, two three-year-olds, one four-year-old and a seven-year-old.) Transitions are also a big deal for the Ramsdell family.  While I’m thrilled that Rev. Ryan Barnett will become the next Senior Pastor of this church,  this season of transitions will impact more than whose name is listed on the org-chart at First Methodist, Waco.   I’m extremely confident in the positive future ahead for First Methodist.  We have wonderful systems and wonderful leadership in place.  We have amazing members who serve Christ sacrificially, and our membership growth and attendance have been terrific in the last few weeks.  There is every reason to believe that the best days of this historic church are still in the future.  I’m also confident the Holy Spirit is at work in this time of transitions and that God has great plans for this fellowship as well as the power to make those plans happen.  I know you’ll have a warm and loving welcome in place for the Barnett’s and we are working daily to insure a smooth and effective transition from one Senior Pastor to another.  I invite you to learn about the Barnett’s, and I encourage you to share the positive things you’ve discovered.   I’ve talked to Ryan extensively, and he feels God is leading him to come to this church and he is excited as his heart turns from his work in Kerrville to Waco.   Please begin praying now as the Ramsdell’s finish their race here and Ryan’s  begins.  We are determined to finish strong.  Effective transitioning takes time, and we are hard at work.

fumcwaco, Ramsdell, RetirementAs I encourage you to support and welcome the Barnett family to a wonderful church, I know you’re aware that means that a new season has begun for the Ramsdell family.  Forty years of ministry has gone so very quickly and our twenty years in Waco has been half of that 40  years.  Susan and I have served 16 churches and seven different appointments all over Central Texas with Waco being our last place to serve as a full-time local pastor.  We’ve loved our ministries, and we’ve more than loved First in Waco.  Our work life, friend life, family life, spiritual life and faith life have all been wrapped up in this fellowship.  I know your stories, and they are amazing stories.  However, we are looking forward to the next step in our lives and ministries.   We have grandkids to care for, and we already have a full summer schedule in place. But we are too young to stay home and plant flowers seven days a week.  The Ramsdell family is asking God to show us with clarity what our next step in ministry will be.  Preachers never stop preaching, and ministers never stop ministering, and Steve Ramsdell and family will never stop leading, dreaming, and sharing our love for Jesus and His church.  Please pray with us as to what ministry we will devote to in this next season of our lives.  Susan and I have always had a heart for young pastors and the churches they serve.  We often wonder if we had someone to mentor us during our early years, with the knowledge and wisdom we did not have at the time, would the churches we were serving been more effective.  We are confident they would have.  It is my hope we can begin a ministry to coach churches and local pastors on the way up who don’t have the resources to hire an expensive church consultant.  That means I’ll have to work cheap.   Pray that we have the resources to step into this dream we think God is giving us to make a big impact on a small church and young pastor with few resources.  We are also very sure the God is Big Enough miracle will be part of this new ministry.  Pray for this God is Big Enough pastor coaching ministry.

Will we miss leading this church?  Absolutely!  But when Addie is a dancing angel on Christmas  Eve, we will be here.  We will maintain a church connection, and Ryan has already invited us to connect freely in the years that lay ahead.  We will be his biggest cheerleaders, and we will also cheer this church on to a great future.   We will be in the background and not up front which is a good place to be.  God is Big Enough continues no matter who is leading.

We look forward to seeing you on the 25th of June at 9:30 am.  I have about ten minutes in which I’d like to share a few words with people we’ve grown to love and respect.  This will be a little sad, finishes are always happy and sad, but the future is still in God’s hands.

But we are still in the “God is Big Enough – What Matters Most” message series.  Don’t miss worship this weekend; it will be important.