RBC Welcomes Rev. J. Loring Carpenter
Rumney Baptist Church welcomes Rev. J. Loring Carpenter as the interim/transitional pastor. Rev. J. Loring Carpenter has served congregations and missions for over 45 years. God has led him to pastor many churches in transition, a camp and conference center, a Christian school, and maritime ministry locally, nationally, and internationally. He desires to serve where God leads to strengthen Kingdom ministry.
He lives in Mendon, MA with his wife MaryAnne. Together they are blessed with three grown children and seven grandchildren.
by Rev. J. Loring Carpenter - July 26, 2018
We recently purchased a new car. It had some new safety gadgets as did most we researched. The side blind spot has a warning light and alarm if I turned and a car was near. An alarm warns if someone or something was approaching from the side as I back out of a parking spot. And the dash screen showed a picture of the area behind the car when in reverse.
I still depend on the rear-view mirrors rather than the rear camera; a habit developed from younger years driving trucks. I trust them more, and they give me more scope of vision than the camera. Rear view mirrors are invaluable when going in reverse. They help me see hazards approaching even as I drive forward. The also give me a limited view of where I’ve been.
Rear mirrors are much like history and tradition. Every disciple and church have history, highlighting eras and individuals when faithfulness to Christ’s mission were exhilarating as well as struggling. We all have stories to tell, and people who through their successes and failures have taught us much about serving Christ. We have traditions that are embedded in our culture, reminding us of ways to live faithfully as disciples and staying in touch with the God who sent us forth to share the gospel and be a leaven to the community. The words and experiences of church leaders are valuable; not to be forgotten.
We constantly look back at history, as with our rear-view mirrors. They help us see our past, informing us of potential pitfalls in ministry so we can speed up, slow down, or change course. But we would not think of only using rear mirrors to drive; only helps to be checked periodically unless you intend to drive backwards. We look forward, out the windshield, and look for road markers to keep us on course.
History is the rear-view mirror of the church. As the society around us changes, as new people and situations present themselves, it is helpful to look at history and learn from the pioneers of faith that have gone before us. However, if that is our only lens, we too often veer off the road or miss the markers and signs of God’s presence as he beckons us forward to new life in Him.
"History is the rear-view mirror of the church."
A church I served in the 1990’s continued to maintain facilities and programs that had not changed since the 1950’s, the historical period when they experience rapid growth. They wondered why they had seen attendance shrink to less than 40 with no families or children. As the neighborhood changed, they looked only in the rear mirror. They tried to steer a faithful course but missed the markers of a changing population in front of them that God called them to reach. Another church said, “We want you to keep our church like it was in the 1940’s when we had two services.”
Every church has ebbs and flows in ministry, but some begin to think the rear mirror is the windshield. As God places markers of faithfulness and opportunities of ministry before them, they look in the mirror and try to navigate forward. That was not Paul’s way of ministry. He only looked back to remember and rejoice in God’s transforming work his life. For ministry he was always looking forward (see Phil. 3:12-14). What are we using to frame and define our ministry as disciples, as the church, the windshield or rear-view mirror?