As some of you may know, after seven years as pastor of North Star United Methodist Church, I will be embarking on a journey with my family to return to Western Pennsylvania where I will continue in ministry as pastor of a church just north of Pittsburgh. It has been seven years filled with tremendous opportunities to work with the Nikiski community with Nikiski Neighbors, feed hungry people through our Food Pantry, grow through discipleship in Bible study, and encourage the youth to worship, lead, and listen to God’s calling on each of their lives.
I have been challenged, stretched, and called upon in ways I never had before. I must say that I am the richer person for those experiences. There have been times of great joy and times of deep sadness. There have been opportunities to participate in bringing about healing and wholeness in someone’s life as well as opportunities for others to bring healing and wholeness into my life.
I have enjoyed the rich fellowship of the pastors of Nikiski as we prayed for one another and for the people of Nikiski each week. I also enjoyed those times when the churches of Nikiski came together to worship in the high school or recreation center. It reminded me of the truth we all know but sometimes forget … that we are all one in Christ.
So, as I am surrounded by boxes — some full and some empty — I am reminded of Paul’s words to the Philippian church as he was geographically far from them. He said:
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
As my family and I become geographically far from the people of Nikiski and the Kenai Peninsula, I say these words with Paul, which express what I have been thinking about and praying for over the last several weeks.
I will remember you in my prayers and will pray with joy as we each continue in ministry to the places God calls us. I am confident that the ministries that I had the privilege of participating in while living in Nikiski will be carried on by those whom God is calling. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Rev. Laura P. Skiba has served the North Star United Methodist Church, 51095 Kenai Spur Highway in Nikiski.