Sunday (this past Sunday) was a big day for the parson. First, his church celebrated a sixteen-year-old young lady, who attends his church, advancing to the National Finals of the High School Rodeo tournament. And, secondly, it was the fiftieth anniversary of the first time the parson stepped into a pulpit as an appointed United Methodist minister.
The parson, as he listened to the congregation sing, reflected back on that day. He’d been appointed to a three church circuit. The smallest of the three churches, of course, had the earlier morning service. Arriving very early, the parson waited in his car for someone else to arrive. He had not yet been given a key. When folks did arrive, the parson sat in the back of the church as Sunday school was conducted. Sunday school concluded and the man in charge said, “Well, our new minister is here. So, we welcome him to come up now and conduct the worship service.”
Full of excitement, carrying his new Bible and his sermon notes in his hand, the parson approached the chancel. He silently commanded himself to be calm. And then, as he started to place his notes and Bible on the pulpit, he saw the brass plate. It read, “Francis Asbury, first bishop of the Methodist Church, preached from this pulpit on April 7, 1805.” The parson smiled as he remembered that was all he could remember of that first Sunday as the parson.
A reception was held in the fellowship hall following the worship. After folks had eaten, and after a lot of stories had been swapped, Jim Swallowford, a pastor from a nearby church, sat down beside the parson. “Tell me, Parson,” he said, “how were you able to get all those churches to love you so much?”
The parson leaned over and quietly replied, “I moved.”