From the Pastor's Desk

September 2017

Dear Members and Friends of the Altamont Reformed Church,

Marie, Hendrik, and I are so thankful for such a warm welcome and such hospitality that has been extended to us. The parsonage is beautiful and it is a wonderful home. We are so grateful for the sizeable investment of time, money, blood, sweat, and tears in preparing a home for us, the food in the refrigerator and pantry, the meals in the freezer, the various supplies that were already in the parsonage. The flower arrangements, the gift cards and so many wonderful notes and cards and the welcome sign, the information about local restaurants and establishments, all of these are so appreciated, so humbling, and such an expression of hospitality.

In fact, it was these characteristics which initially drew me to the Altamont Reformed Church. A church does not exist solely for itself and for its own existence and benefit. The Church of Christ exists for the good of the world, and each local church exists, as well, for the good of the community, which includes the members but extends beyond the members. ARC exhibits these values, from the ecumenical work to the community meals, and so much more. It is a pleasure to be able to begin my service in this lovely community and at this historic church under the mountain.

It is with excitement and humility that I join you on your journey at this point. I join you with the clear knowledge that ARC has existed long before me and, with God's grace, will continue to exist long after I am gone. This whole thing is not at all about me, it is about what God has done and is doing with this group of people in this corner of the Kingdom of God. Beginning to minister with a new church is never an easy task for pastor or congregation. A relationship between pastor and congregation is one that is built slowly over time. Far more than simply an employment arrangement, a pastor and congregation live and minister together so that all may be wholly committed to Jesus Christ.

Our part of this journey together will be one that is sure to have bumps; just as I trust that we will
have excellent times together. This beginning will take grace on both our parts as we become
accustomed to one another. Just as I am not Pastor Bob or Pastor Roger, and that is okay, you are
not Calvary and that is okay. And so just as you are becoming accustomed to me, I am becoming accustomed to you and through this process we become closer to one another and we all learn more and more what it means to love God and love others.

Some folks have asked me what my agenda is for ARC, what my vision is for this church. In many ways, it is difficult to give an answer because we are just beginning our time together. I know that there are concerns. Our church family is aging, which is not altogether unusual for churches, but we need to be cognizant of this. We need to continue to grow our capacities to reach out, not just for survival, but to be faithful to the calling to which Christ has called us. While we are financially stable right now, finances are something to which we must give attention, as we want to ensure that this church will be able to continue serving this community long after we have all passed to the church triumphant. Unfortunately, there is no secret formula to addressing any of this. But if we all commit to each other and, to listen to what the Spirit is saying to our church together, and to labor together in this corner of the vineyard, with God's aid, we can do far more than we would envision.

So I do not come with a formula. I do come with some ideas, some may be familiar, some will be different, and some may be way out of the box. But more than anything I come with the simple desire to be the best pastor to this congregation that I can possibly be. I suppose if I have an agenda, this is it. I want to live among you, to teach the Word of God, to steward the holy mysteries and means of grace, to challenge you, and to comfort and encourage you.

As we begin our ministry together, it will take some time for us all to get to know one another. If you want to meet with me, wish to talk with me, have a need to bring to me, or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact me. I very much look forward to hearing from you. I can be reached by email at pastormatthew.arc@gmail.com and you can call me at my study at church at (518) 861-8711 ext. 301 or at the parsonage at (518) 595-5125.

There is so much more that could be said, but we are together for a marathon, not a sprint. And so for now, know that I am so happy to be here among you and am so thankful for you.

Soli Deo Gloria - Glory to God Alone
Your pastor and teacher and fellow laborer in the service of Christ,
Pastor Matthew