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"Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,

and creates a vision for tomorrow."

- Melody Beattie, author

Nearly five years ago, God called me to consider something that had been building for a long time. Upon prayerful discernment, I accepted God's calling to pursue pastoral ministry and applied to McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. While a weekly blog does not offer the space to describe the timeline of my journey, it certainly does provide a forum to express my gratitude and appreciation to First Presbyterian Church of Valparaiso for its continued spiritual and financial support throughout my journey. As I near completion of a Master of Divinity next spring, the wonderful virtue of gratitude is prominent within my mind, body and spiritual foundation.

Over the last four academic years, I have been blessed to receive the Anne Lauterbach Scholarship from First Presbyterian, thus affording me the ability to pay the tuition costs of seminary. In particular, I express my sincere thanks and joy for First Presbyterian's generosity this year in encouraging the fulfillment of my calling to serve God by awarding me once again with the Lauterbach Scholarship along with many other First Pres students who are pursuing their dreams. While each person who enters into ministry must make their own selfless commitment spiritually to serve the people of God, I believe it is the body of God's people that supports the individual in many other significant ways. In essence, being the body of God's people continues to be the graceful role that First Presbyterian has and continues to serve for me over the last 15-plus years.

The generosity that First Presbyterian demonstrates in so many ways to an abundance of people is a true reflection of the words of the Apostle Paul who emphasized the subject of gratitude through his New Testament writings. Paul's message in his letter to the people of Corinth in 2 Corinthians 9:10-15 illuminates the generosity of First Presbyterian for myself and many others:

"He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"

Every ounce of generosity to help others is the ultimate way in which we show our thankfulness to God for the precious gift of Jesus Christ and the grace God bestows upon all of us. As I continue on my ministry journey, I have been blessed by the body of First Presbyterian Church and with the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with many throughout Northwest Indiana.

Thank you to all of you for serving as the hands and feet of Christ!

As the season turns to autumn, God bless,

Bill Rogers, McCormick Theological Seminary student

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