Windows On Our World
November 2023 | Written by Maribeth Griessel
As we wind down our descriptions of the many stained glass windows Gashland is fortunate to enjoy, primarily in the Sanctuary, as well as in the downstairs of the older portion or the building, we view two well-known images. First, the cluster of grapes is shown on one of the windows located on the east wall of the Sanctuary. The grapes clearly depict the fruit of the vine, which Jesus refers to in three of the gospels. We read in Luke 22:18, “For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And of course in the 15th chapter of the Book of John, Jesus relates, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” The second window we view is located in the kitchen, adjacent to Fellowship Hall, and pictures a loaf of bread with a knife slicing it. Bread is a symbol of generosity, sharing and of course life itself. When combined with the grapes (wine) we have the two elements partaken of in the Lord’s Supper. And of course Jesus refers to himself as the Bread of Life in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst,” demonstrating that He alone is the true source of our spiritual life.
“Windows On Our World” in September ended with a brief mention of the ministry of Rev. Ed Longabaugh, who served Gashland from 2003 – 2012. As previously noted, during his time here this pastor oversaw the changes necessitated as our church withdrew from the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and united with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Rev. Longabaugh moved from Sacramento, CA, in August, 2003, with his wife, Cynthia and children, Drew, Clair and Eric. His vision for Gashland was outreach, focusing on our mission activities, evangelistic efforts and service to this community. 2004 would witness the entire greater Kansas City region preparing to welcome Billy Graham to Arrowhead Stadium for his final crusade, topping off 50 years in evangelism. In 2007 our church left one denomination and joined another. Pastor Longabaugh reminded the congregation in the 2010 Annual Report that the Lord had remained faithful to this church, adjusting personnel and budgets as needed. He went on sabbatical in October, 2011, until the end of the year, at which time the Longabaugh family moved from KC to the Seattle area.
GEPC extended a call to Rev. Ritchey Cable in April, 2012, to become Senior Pastor. He, his wife, Melissa, and children, Parker, Cooper and Sophie, moved to Kansas City that summer from Lafayette, LA, with his first official sermon being given in July. Pastor Cable’s goals included strengthening the leadership of the church and of course preaching the gospel every week.
Ritchey wrote a detailed letter to the Gashland Family on March 24, 2013, to be included as a part of the 2012 Annual Report. Salient points from that letter bear repeating and will be included in this look back at his recently completed eleven year ministry here. Rev. Cable explained one initial goal for his first months in ministry here would be a “listening phase”, to learn and understand the state of Gashland as well as its ministry structure, attending as many committee and ministry meetings as possible. No doubt this early goal extended throughout his tenure here.
He expressed, “First, it is my belief that the strength of the leadership of a church is essential to its health, life and vitality.” His first priority was to develop and minister to the Session, which, along with himself, was tasked with shepherding the flock of God. He continued, “During the last six months the Session has spent considerable time studying and discussing church health and revitalization, (leading) us to evaluate current ministry structure and restructure the Session to effectively minister the gospel to the people of Gashland and the community around us. Our new structure follows the acronym of W.O.R.D. This stands for the various headings of which the Session is over, Worship, Outreach (local community and missions), Relationships (connecting people to the church and to one another), Discipleship (Christian Education ministries of the church). The common thread running through each of these is prayer.”
Pastor Cable continued his letter reporting the exciting growth the church was experiencing in children’s ministry, the revitalization of its children’s church and the desire to train the children to listen attentively to the Sunday morning messages (leading to the development of the ongoing Sermon Search.) He stressed, “Children’s ministry is one of our largest volunteer efforts and I am extremely grateful to the committed core group of teachers and volunteers.” And of course the ongoing growth in this area remains apparent now, over ten years after Ritchey penned these thoughts.
Summing up his message to the congregation, the then new senior pastor added, “Finally, of chief importance to me is to seek to bring God’s Word to you all week to week. There is hardly room in this letter to list all that God has done this last year (2012). It is my heart that God will continue to do a redeeming, healing and unifying work inside the doors of Gashland this next year so that as ‘partners in the Gospel’ we are better equipped to leave the walls of our church to proclaim the Gospel and carry out our mission of advancing the Kingdom in the Northland area.” In retrospect, we can surely look back on Ritchey’s hopes and goals and see that God blessed our church through the ministry of this man He chose to preach to, teach and lead Gashland for the next decade plus.
As our Lord has led Ritchey Cable to move into other aspects of ministry and service, Associate Pastor of Discipleship, Rev. Michael Morefield, is filling the pulpit most Sundays, continuing to bring gospel-filled messages to our congregation. Michael has faithfully served Gashland since May, 2015, when he was hired as Assistant Pastor of Family Life. He was promoted to his current position just over 6 years ago. His ministry ensures that all who attend our church, either in person or virtually, will never fail to hear the Word of God clearly preached and taught in worship services as we wait.
And, yes, GEPC is in a waiting zone….waiting for pastoral candidates to submit their applications to fill the pulpit as senior pastor….waiting for the search committee to prayerfully examine these applications as they come in….and most importantly waiting for God to make known to us His choice for the person to move into this leadership position. “Windows on our World” has shared with you throughout this year the devotion and strong faith of the men God has provided to pastor Gashland in the past. And we thank and praise our Father for the new senior pastor He will soon provide.