A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Pastor's Appreciation from an Appreciative Pastor - A Tribute to Rev. Ed Zeiders

When I was in the ninth grade. a new pastor was introduced to my home church in Stewartstown, PA. Thirty-six years have gone by and I can still remember his first sermon. It had something to do with a scarecrow.

Scarecrows are meant to keep unwanted creatures out of the garden. Pastor Ed had the opposite mission. He was always inviting us to come into the garden and to get our hands dirty by using our gifts in ministry and service.

"I'll never forget his words to me that day."

When I was in the ninth or tenth grade, he came up to me during a church meeting and said, "God might be calling you to become a pastor someday." What did he see in me to say something like that? I'll never forget his words to me that day. Even though I had dismissed them, they echoed in my mind from time to time.

During my junior year at Temple University in Philadelphia, I finally sensed God's calling for me to enter the pastoral ministry. When I came home during a semester break, I made an appointment to tell Pastor Ed that I had finally said, yes to God's calling. He was holding some papers in his hands at the time and when I told him, he threw them into the air like confetti at a parade and said, "Alright! It's about time!"

He immediately told me about the thirteen United Methodist seminaries and that I should probably go to United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio since that was where he had received his Master of Divinity degree. Little did we know at the time that several years later, he would become president of that same seminary!

After graduating from college the following year, Penny and I were married by Pastor Ed. He provided us with pre-marital counseling to help us prepare for our new covenant together. From there, we packed our Ford Escort and headed west to Dayton, Ohio.

Since Ed and his wife, Joan would later return to Ohio to become the President of the seminary, I had the privilege of hosting Ed for a Holy Week spiritual renewal at a church I was serving at the time. It was a wonderful week with him!

When he accepted an appointment to serve St. Paul's UMC in State College, PA, I stopped by to visit and reminisce with him one summer. He graciously showed me around the church and took me out to lunch.

"Through our baptism, God calls each one of us to use our gifts and bless others."

Under Ed's pastoral leadership  the Stewartstown UMC, several people in the congregation ended up responding to God's calling to enter pastoral ministry. I believe this was due to Ed's uncanny ability to encourage us to listen to God's voice and calling in our lives. It's not always a calling to pastoral ministry. Through our baptism, God calls each one of us to use our gifts and bless others.

Ed has now retired from pastoral ministry and resides in Stewartstown, PA where he is active in the church and sings in the choir. And yes, this is the same church where a ninth grader heard him preach a sermon about a scarecrow thirty-six years ago.

Happy pastor's appreciation month and thanks for being my pastor, Rev. Ed Zeiders!

No comments: