Gifts That Change Lives

Dean Phelps, Transitional Regional Minister

Dean Phelps, Transitional Regional Minister
Dean Phelps

I was 12 years old that Christmas. Under the tree, I found an envelope with my name on it. When the time came, I opened the envelope to find only an index card with an instruction on it. Too many years have passed for me to recall the exact instructions or sequence, but they were simple instructions like, “Look under the milk.” Under the milk carton, then, was another index card with another instruction.

As best I recall, I followed four or five index cards, leading me around the house until the final card instructed me to look in the closet in mom and dad’s bedroom. There I found a guitar case.

That Christmas, the gift from my parents was my own guitar. I had started playing three or four years earlier, borrowing my dad’s instrument. Now I had an instrument of my own.

Ever since, I have played. Through all the seasons of my life, my guitar and my voice have been companions on the journey. They have helped me make friends. They have opened doors to relationships. They have dismantled barriers and created trust. They have rekindled precious memories, brought tears and smiles, and eased the burdens of the day. I cannot imagine my life without music and especially without the guitar.

That gift changed my life.

As we enter into Advent and look ahead to Christmas, we remember a gift that changed our lives, God’s gift of Jesus, given because God so loved the world. As Christ’s church, we bear witness to that gift. We share the difference that Jesus has made in our lives, and we pray that our affirmation might make a difference in the life of another, in our community, or even in the world.

The Christian Church in Kentucky gathers congregations from across the state in a shared witness to God’s gift of Jesus. Together, we encourage one another. We share the load by sharing ideas and resources. We share tasks that we can do better together.

We give gifts that change lives.

Through summer programs at Camp Kum-Ba-Ya and Camp Wakon’Da-Ho, Kentucky’s Disciples work together to teach the faith to children and youth. There they find faith and friendship for a lifetime. At camp, many discover their unique gifts and call to ministry.

The gift of camp changes lives.

The regional Committee on the Ministry shepherds those who are following their call into ministry. Working with congregations, seminaries, and others, candidates prepare for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, both inside and outside the local congregation.

The gift of ministry changes lives.

The Christian Church in Kentucky comprises 205 congregations that stretch from Bardwell to Pikeville. Each congregation grew from a movement that claimed Christian unity as its polar star. We have forged that unity by sharing ministry together, enhancing our ability to make a difference in the communities where we are called to serve. We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the ones who are sick or in prison, all the while bearing witness to the greatest gift of God’s love.

The gift of unity changes lives.

I consider it a gift to serve with all the congregations and clergy of the Christian Church in Kentucky. I value every opportunity to share a song or a word with you. You have received my transitional ministry graciously. I am honored to walk with you in an unprecedented season of change. Through the joy and the heartache, we share the gifts that change lives.

The gift of the church changes lives.

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