Well, Central, this is my final week as your Pastor! It has been the most fulfilling 17 years of ministry in my life, and I have been humbled to be your Pastor for such a long time.
At a time like this there are so many things I want to say. But from the overflow of my heart, I want to focus one last time on the vision for ministry in the future.
Central has long supported mission work all over the world. That continues, and we now need to add our newest category of missionaries: each of us in our own neighborhoods. We are called to listen to what our neighbors need, to serve side by side with them, and to love them in the name of Jesus. This calls for creativity!
Central has created a special fund to support this outreach in our individual neighborhoods. It will be available for you to use in “outside the box” ministry—like hiring food trucks, renting tents for events, or supporting projects in local schools. It’s called The John Russell Outreach Fund. Many of you knew John, but for those who didn’t, let me take a moment to explain.
John Russell grew up at Central Presbyterian Church. In high school years he served on the music team at Central’s Epic and Mosaic services. While in college John worked with children with autism to help them reach their full potential. He was a founding member of Saint Moses church in Remington, where he shared his love of music by leading worship. He was a volunteer mentor with young life in Baltimore City.
He was taken from us on April 30, 2017 when he suddenly collapsed riding his bicycle.
John’s faith in Christ was at the center of his life. Orthodox in the most unorthodox ways, John was a model of sensitive Christian witness. Christian and non-Christian friends were deeply impacted by his capacity to listen carefully, take interest in the lives of the people around him, and naturally express his faith as a Christ follower.
John’s life stands as a model of what an authentic Christian witness looks like in a complex and wounded world. This fund is intended to help those groups of Christians who are motivated to build deeper relationships with the communities around them. It’s intended to help people dream big about serving, and to encourage creativity as we learn what it means to declare Christ and demonstrate the reality of his Kingdom to the people we are learning to love.
These funds will be available through a grant process beginning in the Fall of 2020. It might be one of the few positive things of this crazy year! At this time there is over $10,000 already given to this fund. I’d like to see it reach over $20,000 by September 13, when the Fund will officially open to requests for use.
God bless you, Central! And I will be praying for you!