Posted on 08 July 2015.
Pastor Tom Holloway
Solon Center Wesleyan Church
15671 Algoma, Cedar Springs (just north of 19 Mile)
As I sit here to write my last “From the Pulpit” article, I am trying to find a way to say goodbye to the city I love and try to tie it into some scripture passage, but I can’t. I think I actually could, because there are many examples like Paul wanting to finish well, and how Joshua had to be courageous when he took the mantle from Moses. But the reality is, I want to express my gratefulness and use every word to say goodbye to the community I love.
My family and I moved here in 2003 from East Lansing, when I left my job at Michigan State University, and took a job in Rockford, as a part-time youth pastor. It was a huge step of faith for my wife and I to go from a career that we loved, in coaching gymnastics, to a career that I knew very little about and had almost no experience in. We left the comfort of a good salary to go to a profession that prides itself on shunning the things of the world, for a life of submission. God has provided through the ups and downs of ministry, and he has allowed us to be in a good place.
In March, things began to change for us. We felt God calling us to explore the option of planting a church in South Carolina. I don’t have enough space to describe that whole process, but God has put us in a position of leaning and trusting on Him. So, it is with much fear and trepidation (but also great excitement) that we will be taking a small church in South Carolina, on August 1. My last Sunday at Solon Center Wesleyan Church will be July 26, and I would love to have you in attendance to say goodbye to me, my wife Kim Holloway, and our three children, Taylor, Christian, and Jackson.
When I first came to Cedar Springs I didn’t know much about it. I was pastoring in Rockford, but we liked the feel of Cedar Springs and we really liked our neighborhood. We first fell in love with the community, when my daughter came to school as a first grade student with Mrs. Cook and she explained to us that Taylor was far behind in her reading. We thought she was doing well in East Lansing, but that was not the case. Taylor moved quickly into the GATORS program, (which my wife taught for a few years later,) and she began to accelerate her reading abilities and soon became a great reader. It was then that my wife and I knew that Cedar Springs Public Schools really cared for my daughter, and that would continue for the next 11-1/2 years. Our family has grown to love the schools, sports, and the community.
I have been fortunate to be a part of this great community by starting the En Gedi youth center. It has seen hundreds, if not, thousands of kids have a safe place to be after school or on a Friday night after a ball game. It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost seven years since CJ Maurer and I met together to find a place for students to be refreshed. I have also been a part of our awesome ministerial association that loves our community so much that they sacrifice their own ministries at times to better the community. This will be the first “United” service that I won’t be leading worship at on August 23, and I am going to miss it so much. That kind of unity is rare, and I pray that our community never takes that for granted.
Most recently I have been able to be a part of our Community Building Development Team, here in Cedar Springs. The CBDT wants to work with other entities to build the community—not to just build buildings and amphitheaters, but to build our community by sacrificing and working together. Most people in our community don’t realize the generosity that exists in this community. Unfortunately, we see a lot of negative things about the ways that we can’t come together instead of the ways that we can work together. We are much better together than we are divided.
I wish I had time to thank all of the people who believed in me and gave me a chance to succeed, but I’m afraid that I don’t. I do look forward to returning to the community and seeing what has been accomplished and you can bet that I will be following all that is going on. We hope to make an impact on our future community, and our next church, but we know that it is going to be nearly impossible to find a community that we will love as much as this one. Know that I will be praying for you as you move ahead, and I hope that you will pray for us as we move to where God has called us. May you go where God is leading you!
Pastor Tom Holloway