In a recent blogpost I mentioned a church in northern New York State that had burned to the ground following a lightning strike.
I had the privilege of meeting the pastor, the Rev. Bonnie Orth, at a worship grants colloquium at Calvin College last month where she told me that her church would soon be rebuilt and that the ministry would continue.
Here’s a link to a TV news report on the ground-breaking ceremony held on Sunday, July 8…
To me, Bonnie Orth is one of the saints in the church today. Lots of attention is focused on superstar preachers like Joel Osteen and Rick Warren – and they certainly deserve credit for the work they do and the many lives they reach – but I am convinced that women and men like Bonnie Orth, laboring in small towns across North America, are the ones who most deserve our thanks and admiration.
Their churches will never grow to the 20,000 attendees per weekend level, but then the towns in which they serve typically don’t have that many people anyway. And yet, they work hard and put in long hours and sit at bedside in many hospitals across this country. They preach on Sundays, but they also lead the youth group and take out the trash and do a hundred other chores not currently in my own job description.
And, in the case of Bonnie Orth, they reach deep into the resources of their personal faith to find ways to rebuild their churches and to move their people from sorrow to joy.
When I go to meetings like the one I attended last month, I can’t wait to meet them and shake their hands and say thank you for what they do. God bless you, Bonnie. I’m proud to call you my colleague in ministry!