sites_annetteAnnette Sites, Jerusalem Chapel (Churchville, Va.)

There is a curve in a road in the middle of nowhere going toward Paradise–Oregon, that is. That curve and 100 other curves on a winding highway is known to the locals as Rattlesnake Grade. What makes this grade one of memory for me is two-fold.

  1. First, there are no guard rails. If your car veers a bit too far to the right, you’ll just plummet into the valley below.
  2. Secondly, this winding mountain road saved our marriage. Well, actually, my husband was wise enough to use this rattlesnake to get my attention!

Driving toward Paradise early in our married years, we knew we were nearing a place of peace and solace for a day away from the pressures of life and ministry. My husband would be looking forward to some time with the elk, deer, or bear who roamed the nearby mountains, and I was thrilled to have some time with my husband. As a busy pastor, he was often gone long hours while I stayed hom caring for our two daughters, both under the age of two. A day off together brought the promise of family time, connectedness, and adventure!

I’m not quite sure which particular curve on Rattlesnake Grade was the special spot, but one day as I was enjoying sharing my joys and woes, my husband sweetly turned to me and said, “I don’t mean this bad, but that’s all for church talk. I need to clear my mind so I can relax.”

I’d like to tell you that I just as sweetly replied, “Yes, dear!” But, no. I got my feelings hurt and maybe let a single tear escape. While trying to be strong and understand, I buttoned my lip, but soon found myself trying to find something else to talk about. The problem: much of my life revolved around things related to the church. My social life was at the church, my friends were at the church, even some of my co-workers went to the church. It soon became clear to us both that other than our kids, I had a hard time coming up with things to talk about with my husband that weren’t somehow interwoven with ministry.

With my husband’s gracious patience, I have learned when to shut off the “chatter valve” and when to just sit quietly and enjoy his company. It continues to be a challenge, however. For the past 19 years, I’ve been employed in the church office and also serve within the church leadership. Our friends, our church family, ministry issues, and church office items mix and mingle daily.

While not every couple has quite these same dynamics, there are similarities for any couple who work beside each other in ministry. When you live with the one who oversees you–whether in a volunteer position or as an employee–healthy boundaries set together will help to prevent ministry overload. Honest–and kind–dialogue is essential.

The perk to working and living with your boss is the flexibility. Today, my husband and I are traveling up I-81 to visit family for two birthday celebrations. While secluded with each other for hours of travel time, we made prior arrangements to bring along some work. Our car will become the church office, and my husband will become my boss. Decisions will be made and controversies brought to a conclusion.

Even though we’ll not be winding our way down a curvy mountain road, I have no doubt that at some point in our travels I will hear the words, “Okay, I’m done with business now. Alright?” With that, I’ll put my files away, take a deep breath, and by God’s grace switch gears from being an employee and co-laborer in ministry to a wife, mom, and daughter-in-law. What a great day for a birthday celebration and a little “peace of paradise!”


Although there is tremendous uncertainty regarding the political situation in Honduras, one thing is clear: people need the Lord. On September 19, Honduras Conference gathered 67 pastors and 15 lay leaders for an evangelism training event. The training focused specifically on using the Bible in an evangelistic presentation, whether formal or informal. The materials were enthusiastically received and carried back to their local churches so others can be trained.

  • Gordon Kettel has resigned as pastor of Imagine This LLL, the church in Grand Ledge, Mich., which he started several years ago. Roy Atherton is serving as interim pastor.
  • Mark Ralph has resigned as senior pastor of Sunfield UB church (Sunfield, Mich.), effective October 1. He had been Sunfield’s senior pastor since 1997. Bishop Phil Whipple is working with cluster leader J. Michael Caley and the congregation to find a new senior pastor. In the meantime, George Speas, a retired UB minister, is serving as interim pastor.

jonamberherron275.jpgJonathan Herron has been named senior pastor of Colwood UB Church (Caro, Mich.) effective September 27, 2009. He takes the place of Phil Whipple, who was elected bishop in June.

Jonathan holds a degree in Theater from Columbia College, and a Masters in Evangelism/Missions from Ashland Theological Seminary (2002). He also studied improv comedy for two years under Tina Fey at the Second City Training Center.

Jonathan’s ministry experience includes being a youth pastor at three churches (including NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC, one of the fastest-growing churches in the country), and speaking at youth conferences since 2002. Most recently, he was founding pastor of Catalyst Church in Kent, Ohio. He writes a blog at:

Jon and Amber Herron have been married for ten years. Amber holds a Masters in Clinical Counseling from Ashland Theological Seminary (2002). They have a two-year-old son, Josiah.

The mission that Jesus gave to us was quite clear and simple.

  • He told his church to go and make disciples.
  • As we do that, we would teach those disciples the commands of Christ, which are summed up in loving God with all our heart and loving others.
  • Then, to make sure that the testimony of our lives is seen to all, we would baptize that new disciple in the name of the Father, the Son and the Spirit.

You have heard it before, but the beauty of it to me has never changed.

It was my privilege to attend a conference with about 55 denominational executives who are on the same page about the mission. We met September 14-16 in Nashville, where we:

  • Shared stories of how our God is working through our churches to make new disciples.
  • Discussed strategies for being more effective in reaching out to a lost and dying world.
  • Prayed together that we would remain faithful and fruitful in accomplishing this mission.
  • Reaffirmed that Christ had clearly told us that the gates of hell would not hold back the church of Jesus Christ.

The one thing that we did NOT talk about was changing the mission.

So I want to encourage each of you to stay focused on the mission Christ has placed before us. Let’s recognize the opportunities to push back the darkness and  bring the light of Christ into a broken and hurting world. Let’s together assault the gates of hell. has some good rules of thumb for church construction. They are divided into categories: balconies, baptistry, building committee, classrooms, drama, fellowship, financing, handicapped issues, lending sources, office suite, projection screen, property, seating, and using volunteers. Some very interesting stuff to consider if your church is thinking about a building project of any kind.