Following is the “Reflections” column from the current issue of the “Hershey Free Press.”
By Pastor Bob Sproul
Looking back on nearly 35 years of pastoral ministry here at Hershey Free Church brings to mind some interesting statistics:
- I have served with 30 different pastors.
- I have officiated at more than 50 weddings and dozens of funerals.
- Hundreds of students were involved in our 12 years of youth ministry.
- Together with the choir and orchestra, we performed more than 30 Easter, Christmas and Worship Musicals with more than 75,000 in total attendance at all of the performances.
- I have had the privilege of participating in nine cross-cultural missions trips.
All of these statistics and more add up to wonderful memories; not just memories of numbers but memories of people.
My entire vocational ministry experience has been at Hershey Free. For all but three years of my marriage to Joan we have lived here. Hershey Church is the only church our daughters, Heidi and Gretchen, knew before they left for college. This has been a place where I have learned how to relate pastorally to others; where I have grown in my ability to study and teach the Word of God; where I have come to understand more fully what it means to worship God; where I have laughed and cried with many of you. It is a place where I have experienced the love of God and his people. Thank you for allowing me the rare opportunity of spending 35 years in one church as your pastor, friend, brother in Christ and co-laborer in the work of the Kingdom.
Joan and I are now embarking on a new and exciting ministry adventure. God is calling us to plant a church in the Palmyra/Annville area. The name of our church will be GracePoint – we want it to a place where we receive and give the grace of God.
We pray that as this church begins to minster in that part of Central Pennsylvania that we will see many people come to Christ and grow in their knowledge and understanding of who God is. Our purpose statement is this: as a worshipping, Spirit-filled community, we desire God’s life-transformation by learning the truths in His Word, so that in all we do, Jesus will be exalted.
We want to be know as a church of vibrant, heartfelt, gospel-centered worship that is totally dependent on God through His Spirit; we want to be a church of prayer; we want to be a church where life-transformation is experienced; we want to be a church that defers to one-another; we want to be a multi-generational church; we want to be a church that values relational discipleship; we want to be a church that makes the community in which it resides a better place; we want to be a church that allows for margin in our lives; and we want to be a church that has an outward focus.
Please pray for us as we begin this journey. May the Spirit of God help Hershey Free and GracePoint church to dramatically impact our communities for the sake of God’s Kingdom. Soli Deo Gloria!!!