It is my honor to produce this column, flavored with love and thanks. I am also very grateful to have served as the senior pastor of Fairfield Missionary Baptist Church for 33 years. Each decade, year, month, week, and day has enriched my life and lifted my soul.

I have officiated weddings, attended baby showers, and seen those babies become adults in the church. I have buried loved ones and consoled families more times than I can recall. Yet, through it all, I have been surrounded by a congregation that has grown in love and grace. It has been my blessing to be touched in such a special way.

This year’s theme was “We Walk By Faith,” from 1John 1:7. My dear friend Pastor Ron Parham preached the 8 a.m. service from the subject, “God is a Deliverer,” based on the 23rd Psalm. He encouraged my soul by calling me a “visionary,” because of my work these 33 years. Additionally, my old friend Rev. Dr. William F. Green, preached at the second service at 10:45. We were together in our spiritual journey at old Pilgrim Emanuel, now Tabernacle of Glory, under his tutelage. I so appreciated his remarks about VUCA-Vulnerability, Uncertainty, Compatibility, and Ambiguity. All these behaviors in troubled times can be overwhelming. He explained that leadership is inspiration and perspiration — it requires one to do the work.

Both my friends in the ministry encouraged me to do my best and to take care of myself. In a time when so much pressure is on pastors, as leaders and individuals, self-care is eminent in order to take care and lead others.

I am appreciative of every member, whether present in person or on social media, as well as those who called, texted, sent mementos, or words of encouragement. I am grateful. I am thankful. I am blessed. The Pastor’s Aid Club, under the leadership of Mrs. Mary Davis, led this endeavor with the Friday night reception featuring music, food, laughter, and much more, then culminating the celebration with the Sunday Service.

I know I am the pastor of the greatest church in this nation, Fairfield Missionary Baptist Church. We work together, we play together, we fight for social justice together, and, above all, we pray together, all in love. I am blessed. Thank you.

Howard Jones is the senior pastor at Fairfield M. B. Church in Goodlettsville and an assistant principal in the MNPS system. He hosts the “Lifting the Lid Leadership Call” program weekdays at 6 a.m. CT. Call 312-626-6799: Mtg. ID. 859.3437.2629; PC: 171368.