Happy Anniversary Covenant Family! And congratulations on 100 years of giving God the glory!
Although I’ve been away from Covenant Church for 21 years (how is that even possible?), my heart is still with all of you! Little did I know when I walked through the sanctuary doors for the first time on that beautiful autumn Sunday back in 1994 that my life was about to change in remarkable and unexpected ways! I remember calling the church office early the next morning and asking to be included in the new member’s class the following week. And I remember speaking with Pastor Bob Mongold not long after that because I somehow felt God’s presence in my life in a way I never had before.
The time I spent as a member of Covenant UMC over the next several years feels like a bit of a whirlwind now that I look back at it. I met so many wonderful Christian friends, whether it was in the UMW, the handbell choir, Sunday morning coffee fellowship, Bible studies, Sunday School, serving on one of the committees, attending the Wednesday Night Live dinners, working on mission projects, etc. It’s virtually impossible for me to verbalize the impact that the people of Covenant Church had on my spiritual development during those years.
It feels like it was just yesterday when I realized, during an Ash Wednesday service, that God was calling me, of all people, to do something new with the rest of my life; something that would glorify God and help, in some small way, to make the world a better place.
Shortly after that sacred moment of realizing that God had a job for me to do, I began exploring exactly what it would look like. I was actively working as a Nurse Practitioner and so it made perfect sense for me to explore the brand new Order of Deacon. I began taking the seminary courses that were required and, with Bob Mongold’s guidance, I became a certified candidate for ministry. There was one thing I was absolutely certain of: given my life-long fear of public speaking, I had no intention whatsoever of pursuing pastoral ministry, which is something I now look back on and chuckle a bit. One thing I’ve learned is that we are often so sure about the direction of our lives, and so certain about our strengths and weaknesses, that we fail to understand that God truly does “equip the called” rather than “call the equipped.” To make a long story short, I finally did accept God’s call to pastoral ministry, despite my kicking and screaming for a few years.
Pastor Mark asked me to give you a brief synopsis of what I’ve been up to over the last twenty-one years. As I mentioned, my nice, neat plan for my life and my ministry took a surprising twist and I will forever be grateful not only to God, but also to the many friends, colleagues, and seminary professors who helped me to clarify my call. I completed my Master of Divinity, was ordained an Elder, was appointed to Ivyland: St. John’s UMC in 2001 as Associate Pastor and then in 2008, was re-appointed to St. John’s as Senior Pastor. In July of 2020, after a total of nineteen years at St. John’s, I “retired” from full-time ministry, purchased a home in a beautiful community called Bear Creek Lakes outside of Jim Thorpe, and was appointed to Pocono Lake UMC, where I continue to be blessed to serve.
So not only do I remember my time at Covenant fondly, but I think often of the faith formation and the Christian fellowship I was so fortunate to have experienced with all of you. And I’ll leave you with a challenge: never underestimate the power of God to change lives. If you feel God nudging you to do His work in the world, no matter how small or how large the task seems to be, God will equip you and God will walk with you! You can count on it.
God bless all of you as you begin your 2nd century of ministry!
Many blessings, Janice Puliti