North Central Region Update
RAY DELAURIER, NC REGIONAL PASTOR
After six weeks in the Regional Pastor position, I am moved by the diversity of the landscapes, the communities and cultures within the Region. [Recently] I met with the leaders from our three Conference churches in the “Iron Range” northern part of Minnesota. From left to right in the picture is Nick and Sally Naglus of Palo Congregational Church, me, Pastor Dick Lohry and Scott Hildreth of Sand Lake Chapel, and Pastor Bob Hodge of Ashawa Chapel. Our Conference churches have been serving the Lord in this region since the early 1970s and Ashawa Chapel since 1986. Each one has a desire for spiritual and numerical growth. It was a great pleasure to meet with them and pray for them.
I have also had the opportunity to travel to South Dakota to preach at Scotland Community Church and meet the other pastors there, as well as meeting with the North Dakota pastors in the Great Plains Fellowship. Travels have taken me to First Congregational in Mantorville, MN, North Point Church in Calumet, MI, Plymouth Church in Oshkosh, WI, and sharing life and ministry together at the WI pastor’s retreat near Amherst, WI. It has been a wonderful time of ministry and encouragement.
The ministry will continue to northern Iowa where I’ll have the pleasure of meeting with First Congregational in Forest City, the leaders at First Congregational, Parkersburg and Pastor Jonathan Faulkner at First Congregational, Buﬀalo Center. I am anticipating a wonderful experience meeting ministry partners and strengthening the local churches. A mission conference in Parkston, SD and a trip to visit the churches in northern IL, and Loomis/Letcher, SD and Mott, ND fill the rest of the Fall calendar.
The Lord has impressed upon me the first point of our Conference “Irreducible Core,” which is to Love God. It has been the theme of my sermons in the churches. We know by heart Jesus’ foremost commandment to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, (Mark 12:28-31). We are to love God with every essence of our being. The big question is How? How do we love the One who doesn’t need our demonstrations of love to feel whole? Fortunately, Scripture tells us how to “love God.” In the OT, Deut.11:1, 13-14 tell us that obeying God and following His Word is loving God. Jesus couldn’t be more clear: Jn.14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments. Jn.14:21, He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” Conversely, He who does not love Me does not keep my words (Jn.14:24). This requires surrender to Him, and joining Him in His work.
When we love God by keeping His words, and when we love Jesus by keeping His words, then we will “Love others,” and “Make Disciples.” When we love God by keeping His words, then the Seven Guiding Values will become the desire of our hearts collectively, and our Conference churches will grow spiritually and numerically. Our Father is pleased to bless and grow churches and individuals who believe, trust, and do His words. After all, only He is worthy of our complete trust.