From Pastor Rich Patsios
As 2019 closes and we welcome the 2020 New Year, it seems a good time to consider what this last year has meant to me and our community. It’s also a good time to think about what we can look forward to in 2020 to make Birmingham Emmaus an even more meaningful and stronger community.
This year we saw several miracles on our walks. The fall men’s walk training was so inspiring that some of the training events became my closest to Christ moments that I shared in my weekly reunion group. When was the last time you experienced a training event in that way? When we got to the walk, a number of men made decisions for Christ. Now, our job is not evangelism. It’s to help churches grow their ministries. However, when someone experiences a walk in a way that causes them to put their whole trust in Jesus Christ, I’m not going to complain!
As I participated in the other 2019 walks on the outside, I still got to see that the Birmingham Emmaus Community was reaching people in a powerful way, allowing them to experience God in new and exciting ways!
It gladdened my heart to see so many recent pilgrims immediately jump in to serve on walks immediately following their own. I saw many of them sponsor close friends and relatives so they too could have their own Walk to Emmaus experience. Obviously, our community’s training and encouragement of sponsorship was bearing fruit.
However, one area of our community’s activities has concerned me a bit: reunion groups. I personally have greatly benefited from being a member of a weekly reunion group. In addition to keeping the Emmaus spirit alive, it has been a treasure of Christian accountability. The questions and issues we discuss at each meeting help keep us centered. Sharing our trials and listening to the other group members’ “take” on our issues help us to make good decisions in our Christian life. Unfortunately, I have gotten a sense from the conversations of our Birmingham Community members that reunion group participation is declining.
As we look to 2020, I strongly encourage you to become active in a reunion group. If there isn’t one in your area, start one. It only takes three to six people to make a good group. The members can be from any church, not just your own; they can be from any Emmaus community; and they don’t even have to have gone on a Walk to Emmaus to participate. Whatever it takes, I urge you to get involved in a reunion group. Spiritual growth seldom takes place in a vacuum, and a reunion group may be just what you need in your own Christian walk.
In closing, I’d like to thank the Birmingham Emmaus Community for allowing me to serve as your Spiritual Director. It has been an honor for me to do so. I also offer my best wishes to Rev. Cheryl Pumphrey, who will be your Spiritual Director for 2020. Please keep her and all our Emmaus Community leaders in your prayers as they serve the community. Best wishes and