Three pastors have been a defining presence in my growth in the Christian faith.
Rev. Donald Newberry, who sowed a seed as a child, his booming voice felt like the very voice of God. It thundered in God's authority, in a way that instilled a reverence for the presence of God. Pastor Walter Hawkins, watered that seed teaching me the tenets of the word and the gift of God's unearned grace. And finally, Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, who groomed what had blossomed. Taking me from a babe in the word to a prayer warrior and a mature Christian woman.
Today, I cry tears of gratitude, joy, and yes a bit of sadness because my father in the faith, Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, has announced his retirement and in doing so passed the baton to his son in the faith, a man of character and righteousness, Pastor JP Foster.
Words will never fully illustrate the prolific anointing God has placed upon Bishop Kenneth Ulmer and the mantle of teaching that has grown so many of us in the faith. Thank you Bishop for your uncompromising love of Christ and your instruction of God’s sovereign word. Thank you for the exemplary character you displayed in front of us week, after week, after week, after week, after week for FORTY YEARS.
The boldness, the integrity, the laughter, the audaciousness, the flare, the celebration of marriage, and more important than all of those things, the sound astute teaching of the word of God.
I can not thank you enough. My words fail me, they cower under the depth of the seeds you’ve down, the fruit harvested as a result, and the plethora of ministries launched as a by-product of your anointing and your unwavering dedication to God's people and above all His truth, and His truth alone. You’ve been a pastor, a shepherd, and a teacher. You’ve been an example of faith, fatherhood, and righteousness. You’ve been a friend.
So…what shall we say of these things? I guess we can say “thank you”, although it doesn’t quite seem to suffice. It doesn’t quite fit ALL that you’ve given. So instead, I will do what you taught me. I will live a life of boldness in Christ. I will have faith during the blind spots, I will share the news of His goodness, and I will secure myself in the study of His Word, and make prayer my weapon of choice.
I will always treasure the talks we shared on our church trip to Israel with you and your beautiful wife and son. I am filled with enormous gratitude that “for such a time as this” I was blessed to sit under your ministry and experience the most significant seasons of my growth as a Christian.
I love you, Bishop. You earned this retirement. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being His good and faithful servant. Well done.