We moved to Indianapolis in 1996. As a matter of fact I turned 40 years old my first week as pastor. We immediately fell in love with Indy and the Westside Church family. There are many highlights from this pastorate. It was here that I met Rev. R. B. Acheson who had been pastor of this church for 18 years. When I came to be pastor he was already retired. Within the first week of my pastorate I asked pastor Acheson to become our “associate pastor”. He did and would stay on staff into his 90’s. He was a great and godly man, and was in many ways a mentor to me. Susanne and I loved he and his wife Dolly. Early in my District Superintendent days, I preached Pastor Acheson’s funeral. Several times a month I remember things that he said and it always brings a smile to my face. Many years ago I heard John Maxwell quote Charlie “Tremendous” Jones:“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” In that case I will be forever changed by having met Pastor Acheson.
Westside Church was filled with some of the most godly and committed Christians I have ever known. The faithfulness of the people cut across generations, it included young, middle-aged, and the senior citizens as well. Because of where I am in my ministry today, I come across people who were a part of our lives while we pastored this church. What were the life and ministry lessons learned at Westside?
- The importance of history. Westside has a history of great pastors through out its rich history. R. B. Acheson and J.K Warrick between the two of them served the congregation for 30 years. Having followed them I benefited immensely from their leadership. One needs to understand and appreciate and benefit from the great things God has done in a place through the ministry of pastors and laity alike.
- People make the church. Westside has been blessed down through the years with some of the finest lay leaders. Evangelism and discipleship were hallmarks at Westside. God blessed this church with so many dedicated people.
- The importance of a great staff. During my time at Westside God gave us a great staff, these godly and talented staff members were like family to us, and we remain close with all of them to this day.
- The importance of laughter. Church health experts tells us that laughter among a congregantion is one of the signs of a healthy church. If that is the case the staff and congregation at Westside were extremely healthy. So many things and events transpired during our time there, that just thinking about them brings a smile to my face as I type this sentence. We surely did have a great time.
- The importance of relationships. Relationships are the real gold in life. Today I am thankful for the relationships that have spanned across nearly two decades. We are richer and better people because our lives intersected with the people of Westside Church of the Nazarene. People matter to God, and they should matter to each of us as well. One of the great joys I have is that several times a year as I am visiting one of our congregations, a young person will come up to me and remind me that I dedicated them when they were babies and immediately there is a connection. Today I am thankful for my church family, and I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the Westside Church of the Nazarene in Indianapolis