Dear Members and Friends of First Baptist Church of Decatur:
I am honored and excited to be your new pastor. Meeting so many of you and being with you over the “Call Weekend” was exhilarating. The enthusiasm you allowed me to feel and the energetic joy so many of you exuded, offered Beth and me a small but vital window into the vast potential of First Baptist’s future.
We left from the thrill of the weekend’s time with you and quickly shifted to the very odd “betwixt and between” place we currently find ourselves. Back at Providence, we are in the midst saying thank you and goodbye as we share tender memories with the many people here we have come to dearly love these past fifteen years. While not easy, these are good and valuable moments we want to treasure. We are also so thankful that so many of these interactions contain acknowledgements from our friends: “we can see the joy on your face.” This reminds us and them how right all of this potential future in Decatur feels.
Now, as we begin to prepare for our time together, several of us felt it might be helpful for me share this reminder about who I am and some of the influences that have shaped me. I am restating some of what I sent to you previously, but I do it with the hope that having met Beth and me in person, you might experience these words now with a little more perspective.
I have been fortunate in my life to have been connected to fine people. My father and mother are first on that list. My dad was a pastor. From him, I learned the necessity of compassion, the need for wisdom, the importance of patience, the significance of hard work and the value of calm understanding. I saw every day as I was growing up, a man committed to sharing life with others in redemptive, hopeful and loving ways. I saw that following Jesus can be daunting and hard. And I began to realize that this difficult discipleship is part of why we need church; it is also what makes following Jesus so exciting and so potentially transformative for us all.
From my mother I learned and continue to learn the power of prayer, the love of music, the importance of practice, the need for worship, the blessedness of nature, the fun of writing, the enjoyment of people, the zest for life and the excitement of Bible Study done well and with gusto. Her influence and support continue to motivate me.
From my wife, Beth, I continue to learn how to be me more fully. She inspires me everyday to be better than I thought I could be. She is a talented and committed minister, an amazing musician, an avid reader, a loving mother, and an intensely loyal friend. Together, we challenge each other to think more deeply and to live more authentically.
I also have been blessed with three very special children who have grown into fine adults. From the day each was born, they have challenged and taught me and expanded my capacity to love unconditionally. Chris (28) finished his masters degree in geography three years ago and now is a GIS analyst with a non-profit organization in Salt Lake City where he teaches U.S. Forest Service employees. Catherine (24) graduated from the University of North Carolina two years ago and is working in New York City at a fascinating non-profit school in Harlem called Harlem Academy. And Olivia (21) is a Senior at UNC with a double major in Global Studies and Political Science. She graduates in May and is in the midst of applying for internships, fellowships and career opportunities in the non-profit world. Each of them has influenced my life in countless, valuable ways. Being their father is one of great joys of my life. Together and as individuals, we love to hike, ski, garden, exercise, travel, make music, share stimulating books, go to engaging movies and enjoy good food.
Finally, I am different and better today because God has graced me with a countless list of wise, generous, and faithful friends and church members. They also have blessed me over the years in more ways than I can calculate. In four different churches during my ministry I have benefitted from interactions and deepened bonds that nurtured me, challenged me, affirmed me and helped me to become a better person and pastor.
So this I know: thanks to all these relationships, my life is richer and more meaningful than I can adequately express. This is what church does. This is what church can be for more than just those of us reading this letter. In the neighborhoods surrounding FBC Decatur, scores of people just like you and me are wishing for a place to grow and learn to be better parents, spouses, workers and children. Each of us wants to love more deeply and care more fully, to know and to be known, to love and to be loved, and to have lives beautifully enriched because of the sacred interactions a place like First Baptist Decatur can facilitate.
For me, my heart overflows with gratitude for all that is and has been. Now I eagerly anticipate what is yet to be. So as we prepare to be officially joined together in a few weeks, know that the power of faith, hope and love has never been more needed. Learning what it means to follow Jesus has never been more crucial. And fulfilling the calling of God’s church in today’s world has never been more necessary or more exciting.
I look forward to being with you very soon, and I hope, for many years to come.
Sincerely and with great anticipation,
Dr. David Jordan
PS: For more details of my life, perspectives and ministry, please visit my web site. You can also check out some of my published works by clicking here.