On the afternoon of November 11 sometime between 3 and 4:15 I was officially installed as the 12th pastor of Judson Memorial Baptist Church.
Installation services at free church Protestant congregations always border on either turning into a coronation service or a battle for the longest service of the decade. This service was neither excessively long nor over the top praise of the one being installed. Instead it was a worship service to celebrate the difficult work of the church, by the search committee, by me and my family, and the host of others who poured out their hearts and souls during this process.
I cannot remember an installation service at the church I attended as a kid. When I first heard about them I felt a deep sense of betrayal, "you mean there was a party we could have had and didn't!" The search process is a trying, difficult, and growing time for a church and a pastor. All of that emotional investment needs a celebration, especially when the all seem so happy about the fit. I don't want to go through another search process (I mean it). In the back of my mind I wanted to be a part of service that I could look back on years from now and say there was nothing more I could have wished for at the service (except the presence of my family in WV, but they'll be here come Spring). I wanted the service to be one of deep promises, a service that we could all turn to in moments of joy and elation and moments of disappointment and frustration. Perhaps the church wanted this too (hope so) for the service we developed together was amazing.
I asked for the church to lay hands on me to close the service. During the prayer my oldest son climbed down to knell with me and my youngest played with my preaching tabs and my daughter stood tall with her hands on my shoulders. The emotion of the moment caught up with me and I began to cry. My tears fell on my oldest son, my youngest kept playing with my tabs, and my daughter started crying when she felt the emotion in my shoulders. At the end of the prayer I stood up and a man from the church said the greatest benediction ever, "Welcome Home Travis." And then I really began to cry!
(Little did that man know that after my trial sermon an elderly woman from the congregation came up to me, shook my hand, looked directly in my eyes and said, Welcome Home. I dont know how I kept my composure but I did.)
Although my name does have Norwegian roots, I never thought I would find and make my new home in Minneapolis...but I'm glad I did.
post script: after the service my two oldest kids, a couple of the youth, my friends, and church folk all gathered for a bluegrass jam session playing Old Joe Clark, it was a blast. The first time I've played in public since Lime Rock, that tells you how much I feel at home here!