When looking up the definition of a Pastor in the dictionary it tells us that it means “a clergyperson serving a local church or parish.” When I read that line it seems like such a standard description for such an important person. A basic and even boring statement that could be used to describe anyone that has even the most basic of knowledge of the Bible or just any simpleton who can lead a group of people. However, with conviction, I can say that when I think of Ray as a Pastor so many more meaningful words come to mind to describe him than just simply Pastor.
I first met Ray five summers ago during a brief meeting to introduce myself before being offered the position of CE Coordinator. I’m not sure if he remembers the encounter, but it was so brief in fact that it only lasted about five minutes. I remember leaving his office after the meeting wondering what kind of impression I had made. I had hoped I had answered every question to the fullest and knew I had rambled on (as all of you who know me, know I tend to do) which is easy to do in Ray’s presence as anyone who knows him knows he is such a great listener. Lucky for me I was offered the job and was blessed to teach the youngest of the church alongside him ever since.
These past years have certainly led us all along a road with a few twists and turns on it as we entered down paths never before encountered with the introduction of Covid. Ray showed the great leader he is as he saw us all through it with a smile on his face. He adapted to recorded sermons so that he could enter our living rooms with his weekly encouragement and guidance. We had to make a lot of unforeseen changes as we all learned to “go with the flow” which is where I got the idea of this year’s Church school theme of transformations.
Throughout the years we would laugh when we were going over the bulletin at staff and realize that a lesson I had planned for the kids was so similar to a sermon title for the same week, or that the children would be learning the same Bible scripture on a particular week as the adults quite by accident. So it should have come as no surprise that with this year’s theme of transformations, we would be ending our church school year with the transformation of having to say goodbye to our favorite teacher.
The thing that I have mostly learned from watching Ray walk along his pastoral journey is when you are in his company you feel a sense of peace. He exudes such kindness and the kind of patience that I can only hope to learn. When you are speaking you can feel him listening as though what you have to say is the most important thing in the world to him. These skills cannot be taught, they are the special traits that make Ray who he is. Someone who can never hold the title of simply just a pastor, but who is so much more than that to so many of us as a leader, mentor, guider, listener, co-worker, teacher, and friend.