Pastor's Report

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 22:36-39

Welcome to the Website for First Presbyterian Church. We hope it will help you learn a little bit about our faith community. This congregation is filled with great people: people who laugh together, work together, and grow in faith together.  We are striving to live into our identity as “the church with heart in the heart of Willmar.” When we tell visitors how to find our church, we describe its location: the church on the corner of Litchfield and 6th; the church across the street from the City Auditorium and the City Offices. Our church has stood proudly on this corner for over 145 years, a stalwart legacy of the faith of the people who wanted Christ to be the cornerstone of this community.

But our church is much more than a building. The beating heart of this congregation is the people who gather in this place for worship and fellowship, for study and service. The beating heart of this congregation is the love of Christ expressed by its people through hospitality and laughter, compassion and generosity, encouragement and prayer.

So come and get to know the wonderful people who make up this community. Listen to each other’s stories. Share each other’s lives. It is our prayer that we would grow together as a family of faith, so that the love we share here would flow out of our walls and bless the community around us.

In Peace,
Pastor Leanne & Pastor Scott

Pastor's Letter

Countdown to Sabbatical

March 2019 = 3 Months Until Departure

March 1, 2019

Dear Friends,


In the book of Genesis, we read that God took 6 days to create the world. God called it “good” and on the 7th day God rested. God created the world, from the beginning, with an inherent need to observe a cycle of rest and renewal. The need for rest was so important that it was written into the law. God commanded a year of solemn rest for the land in Israel every seven years (Leviticus 25:1-7). In an agricultural society this means that the majority of the people would rest too. It was part of their worship of God and a way to learn dependence on him. This isn’t exactly the same as a sabbatical, but it shows that the principle of regular, extended rest is good because it was God’s idea.

Throughout the Gospels we get glimpses of Jesus going off to a quiet place, away from the crowds and his disciples, to rest and pray. In one of my favorite stories, Jesus, weary from his time teaching and healing the masses of people, sleeps in the midst of a storm while his disciples worry and fret. Because, sometimes you just need to rest. Even Jesus, God incarnate, experienced spiritual fatigue and needed times of rest and renewal

Just to be clear. We are your pastors; we aren’t Jesus. If Jesus, being fully human and fully divine, needed time set aside for rest, what does that say about us, who are merely human? We need rest, too. A sabbatical is a particular kind of rest, a period of time set aside for spiritual renewal; it is rest with a purpose. 

The purpose of us taking sabbatical is to recharge our physical, emotional, and spiritual batteries so that we can come back to you with renewed energy and vision for our ministry together. In our ordination vows, we promised to serve you with “energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.” This season of renewal, in the 7th year of our ministry with you, will equip us to continue to faithfully uphold that vow. Research has shown that pastors who take sabbatical have longer, healthier tenures in their congregations. That is why most presbyteries now recommend (some require) a sabbatical of at least 3 months for pastors after 6 years of service, a period of rest during the 7th year.

It is our prayer that it will be a time of spiritual renewal for all of you as well. That is why we are being intentional about planning activities for our sabbatical, and yours, that will provide opportunities for rest, recreation, reflection, and renewal. As the Countdown to Sabbatical continues, we will provide more information. Each month’s newsletter will feature information on a different aspect of our sabbatical plans: how we will celebrate leaving and coming home; who will serve in our absence; sabbatical “itinerary” for the church and the pastors.

We know you have a lot of question, and we want to do the best we can to answer them. To that end we will be having our first informational conversation during coffee fellowship on March 24th. Bring your questions and join us around a table. We look forward to sharing with you what is in store for summer (June, July and August) while we are enjoying a season of holy rest.

Grace and Peace,

Pastors Scott and Leanne


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