Evangelical Reformed Church was founded 24 years ago. Ours was an unusual birth. There were no other church or churches involved, just five families who believed it was what the Lord would have us do. With not much more than our faith, we rented a church building, and opened up our doors to 58 people that first Lord’s Day.
Many faces come to mind as I close my eyes and think back over the years. Sadly, some of the faces no longer have names. The years have added up. I sometimes wonder about that family that dropped in on us for a month or two. Or, the friend that was brought to church for a time but didn’t stick. Then there are the people who labored with us before careers or circumstances took them away to other zip codes. And there certainly are the children, now adults, who were whisked away by schooling, jobs, and spouses.
Over nearly a quarter century, there have been many births, baptisms, weddings and funerals. There are several who have come to saving faith. Many have been introduced to Reformed theology. As such, God is sovereign and the phrase “By Grace alone, through Faith alone, because of Christ alone” has made the gospel even more amazing to them.
There has been some disruption and heartache. There has been deep hurt when differences led to partings. Growing pains? Pruning? Sending people elsewhere where they were needed more? Whatever the reason, discord leaves scars.
Lynn has been at my side through it all. We were married for eight years before I found myself behind a pulpit. She assures me she still would have said “yes” if she knew being a pastor’s wife was in her future. Our three children grew up in this church, their daddy the only preacher they ever had. They are bringing grandchildren to us now.
Four foreign missionary families are helped to stay in the field and a handful of local ministries are blessed by the giving of this congregation. We have been in our own building for nearly 15 years and the sanctuary is getting closer to capacity each Lord’s Day. Our first Associate Pastor joined us this year. Livestreaming and YouTube has recently extended our reach beyond Tacoma. All of it remarkable indeed.
On my desk sits a plaque anonymously given, I suspect, by one of you. It is a reflection of a pastor hero of mine, Samuel Rutherford, who labored long ago. He captures my feelings well. “It were a well-spent journey, though seven deaths lay between.”
I’m uncertain how many more deaths remain. But I wouldn’t want to go through it with any other church or people than the ones I have the privilege of pastoring at Evangelical Reformed Church.
Pastor Rich Hamlin
December 30, 2020