True Confessions of An Interim

Jun 12, 2024

By The Rev. Dr. Carl Grosse

I’m told that at a recent meeting, the Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry had positive things to say about how our transition is moving along here at Fountain City Presbyterian Church. If that’s true, much of the credit goes to your leadership. Your Session, the Vision Task Force, and now the Pastor Nominating Committee, work hard on your behalf to manage resources, plan ministries, and do all of that with a heart for faithfully following where Jesus leads. They balance cherishing the wonderful history you have on the one hand, with an open mind for responding to the here and now on the other hand.

You also share in the credit. Many committees and groups have dedicated volunteers who help do the work.  You impress me with your care for each other and your willingness to step up when needed. I love seeing the palpable joy when you get together and bless each other with friendship and shared service. Are you perfect? No, and there have been bumps in the road. A misunderstanding here, an unkind word there…it’s bound to happen when you have a group of real human beings. Again, you are learning to apply the grace and love God gives you, so that the bumps stay small and even get smoothed out. 

I give you all credit because the Presbytery and I had an awkward beginning. My statement of faith and other procedural documents were, shall we say, unconventional. I was too critical and defensive when answering questions from them about the documents. My determination to not do business as usual came off as too unusual. I’ve learned things about painful events in this Presbytery that, had I known then, would have changed how I presented several items. I see now how some comments I made caused needless concern, and I regret that. Thankfully I’ve been able to make some apologies.

If actions speak louder than words, I hope that my work among you has reassured the Presbytery and validated my apologies. I know your work conveyed most of the positivity the Committee on Ministry appears to have noticed. Billy Graham once did an interview with Youth For Christ where young people asked the questions. One of them asked how to witness to friends, and he replied: “The greatest way to witness is through the life you live. Let the radiance of your Christian life be such that it will make them ask questions about it. Be careful of false piety and a ‘chip-on-the-shoulder attitude’. Be gracious, sweet, and humble, then let God work through you.”  Good advice, no matter who’s watching!