Farewell, Tri-State

31 May 2017

Christopher J Wiles

writer | speaker | servant

Well howdy, Tri-State. Having been your pastor for the last seven years, I’ve witnessed a great many changes, but presently I find myself on the verge of one of the greatest changes of my lifetime. As you may have already heard, I am getting married, and with that marriage comes a new start, a new adventure, and yes: a new town.

With my departure now immanent, I sit as one does when the roller coaster reaches the top of that first crest, presenting only the choice of gripping the rails or tossing your hands in the air. Truthfully, I’ve done both in the last few months, but ultimately I look forward to the ride ahead.

We are family, you and I—by virtue of our shared relationship in the body of Christ. What affects one of us affects the others. And while being a pastor grants no one a place of superiority, my departure will nonetheless have an impact on our social community.

In light of this, I wanted to share a few words with you this week, in light of my personal situation, as well as the fact that Tri-State Fellowship also finds itself in a period of transition.

God’s past faithfulness

One of the reasons Tri-State has been a unique blessing to me is that it has served not merely as my occupational center but my true spiritual home. As some of you know, I came to Tri-State not as a pastor but as a college student. I immediately discovered two things.

First, Randy Buchman was doing a series on “worldviews,” beliefs prominent in the non-believing world today. As a student in a liberal arts setting, I was deeply appreciative of a church that labored to understand the world that I inhabited. Second, I found a community with whom I belonged, a place of social and spiritual connection.

After college, it was Tim Thorpe who asked me to lead a Bible study for young adults. The request was one of necessity more than any giftedness on my part, but after uttering a few swear words (privately) I accepted. With weekly preparation in the gospel of John, Jesus became more vividly real to me than ever before. My degree in biochemistry would be set aside; with Randy’s encouragement I left home for Dallas Seminary.

Landing a job after graduation proved far more difficult than I would have imagined—largely owing to the fact that I was still single. In 2010, Randy approached me with the offer of joining the staff of Tri-State as teaching pastor.

I could say much concerning my appreciation for these years of support—both from the men I’ve just mentioned as well as each of you.  But my larger point is this: God’s faithfulness is greater than our circumstances, and the story he weaves together is far deeper than any dare dream.

31 May 2017

Christopher J Wiles

writer | speaker | servant

Chris is a writer and speaker. He currently serves as teaching pastor at Tri-State Fellowship and as a research writer for Docent Research Group.

“God’s faithfulness is greater than our circumstances, and the story he weaves together is far deeper than any dare dream.”

Present circumstances

In 2015, I met a young woman named Erica Garrison, a counselor from Madison, Virginia. In time, we fell in love, and in 2016 I asked her to be my wife. Our wedding will be taking place on June 3 of this year.

Needing to keep our ceremony small, I was forced to be excruciatingly selective with who I could invite, ultimately narrowing my list to immediate family, fellow staff, and the guys from my small group. However, on June 24 we will be hosting a second reception at Tri-State Fellowship to which all are welcome.

The road ahead

The decision to relocate has not been an easy one. Ultimately, our goal is to go where God leads, but we are committing to Charlottesville because that’s where her job is and we already have some preliminary connections in the area. The hope, of course, is for me to find a job as a pastor, but if this does not happen within a year we’ve committed to relocating to the city of God’s choosing.

What will I do in the meantime? Several things:

  • My larger goal is to use this time to work on some writing projects that I’ve been putting off—and, with God’s blessing, publish a book.
  • I’ll also continue to serve as research writer for Docent Research Group, providing churches and clients with sermon preparation materials.
  • I’ve recently been tasked with helping craft the next “For Our City” sermon series for Hagerstown.
  • I’ll be returning to the area periodically to speak at Tri-State Fellowship on Sunday mornings.
  • I may speak at some local churches and ministries in the Charlottesville area.

Each of you has meant a great deal to me, and I appreciate the many requests to support Erica and I in the future. How can you support us? There are three things in particular:

  • Pray. There is literally no aspect of our lives that does not need prayer. Pray for our marriage, pray for my career, pray for stability in her career, and pray for our future.
  • Subscribe. At the risk of self-promotion, you’re reading this on my newly-revised personal website. If you enter your email in the form below, you’ll receive articles and blog posts, as well as some personalized newsletters so that we can better stay connected.
  • Remain. Rumors are already circulating that after I leave, some are considering finding a new church. Transition periods often bring the temptation to explore other options. But I ask that you remain connected to Tri-State Fellowship. As I’ve already mentioned, the church as a whole is in a state of transition. The experiences of the past are not as important as the mission ahead.

Present circumstances

In 2015, I met a young woman named Erica Garrison, a counselor from Madison, Virginia. In time, we fell in love, and in 2016 I asked her to be my wife. Our wedding will be taking place on June 3 of this year.

Needing to keep our ceremony small, I was forced to be excruciatingly selective with who I could invite, ultimately narrowing my list to immediate family, fellow staff, and the guys from my small group. However, on June 24 we will be hosting a second reception at Tri-State Fellowship to which all are welcome.

The road ahead

The decision to relocate has not been an easy one. Ultimately, our goal is to go where God leads, but we are committing to Charlottesville because that’s where her job is and we already have some preliminary connections in the area. The hope, of course, is for me to find a job as a pastor, but if this does not happen within a year we’ve committed to relocating to the city of God’s choosing.

What will I do in the meantime? Several things:

  • My larger goal is to use this time to work on some writing projects that I’ve been putting off—and, with God’s blessing, publish a book.
  • I’ll also continue to serve as research writer for Docent Research Group, providing churches and clients with sermon preparation materials.
  • I’ve recently been tasked with helping craft the next “For Our City” sermon series for Hagerstown.
  • I’ll be returning to the area periodically to speak at Tri-State Fellowship on Sunday mornings.
  • I may speak at some local churches and ministries in the Charlottesville area.

Each of you has meant a great deal to me, and I appreciate the many requests to support Erica and I in the future. How can you support us? There are three things in particular:

  • Pray. There is literally no aspect of our lives that does not need prayer. Pray for our marriage, pray for my career, pray for stability in her career, and pray for our future.
  • Subscribe. At the risk of self-promotion, you’re reading this on my newly-revised personal website. If you enter your email in the form below, you’ll receive articles and blog posts, as well as some personalized newsletters so that we can better stay connected.
  • Remain. Rumors are already circulating that after I leave, some are considering finding a new church. Transition periods often bring the temptation to explore other options. But I ask that you remain connected to Tri-State Fellowship. As I’ve already mentioned, the church as a whole is in a state of transition. The experiences of the past are not as important as the mission ahead.

“The experiences of the past are not as important as the mission ahead.”

If I’ve not set it before, thank you, thank you, thank you—for the opportunity to be your pastor, for your patience in the years that I’ve grown as a communicator, for your continued support of both me and my wife. So much of what I have has been not the result of my own hard work, but by the grace of God poured out through the people in my life. My parents, who have supported me unconditionally. Randy Buchman, who has graciously granted me opportunities fellow seminarians only dream about. Tim Thorpe, who had the audacity to ask a research chemist in torn jeans and heavy metal t-shirts to lead a Bible study.

This is where I am; this is who we are.

And Jesus is greater still.

 

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