Dear Friends: A Letter from Sam

Dear Friends,

My time at Granite Springs is drawing to a close.  Like I’ve expressed to so many of you, I have mixed emotions.  Of course, there is great joy – Kelly and I are engaged and I’ve moving to Grand Rapids Michigan start our life together.  I’m extremely grateful that I’ve been called to be a pastor of community and discipleship at a wonderful church called Alger Park.  I’m happy to be able to support Kelly as she pursues a Master’s of Social Work degree and begins an internship in the fall.  But it’s also bitter – to leave Granite Springs and all of you.  Granite Springs has been a very healing place for me.   I love being a pastor at Granite Springs Church and this church will always hold a very special place in my heart.  Granite Springs is a wonderful place to serve and work.  I couldn’t be happier here.  I’m extremely grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given to love and shepherd the Granite Springs Congregation.

For my final blog post, I thought I would give a list of some of my favorite things/moments that I’ve experienced at Granite Springs over the past 2 ½ years.  These are grace moments and I hope you’ll feel encouraged by them.  Quite often in the Scriptures, we are called to “remember” the mighty acts of God.  This is my attempt to do that very thing.

Pam Shelton getting baptized

The baptism of Pam Shelton was special.  I’ve never forget the moment she came out of the water– her overflowing emotion was symbolic of what God does in us – makes us alive again – with joy and deep gratitude.  Thank you Pam.

The Curious Church Podcast

Working on a creative project with Aaron Antoon and Matt Timms has been pure joy.  It’s been fun to see the podcast develop and the laughter and fun we have with each other is real.  From the beginning, we wanted the podcast to be a blend of playful zaniness and thoughtful conversations.  I think we did that.  Thanks to everyone for being such big fans!

Interviewing the Easter Bunny

I’ll never forget when I was standing on stage, looking for the Easter Bunny, and Allen (after a short delay) raced up to the front…  the bunny apologized for being late and told us that he was busy laying a huge golden egg.  It was so funny and so bizarre.  It makes me smile as I write about it now.  Thanks Allen for making us all laugh.

25th Anniversary Celebration

Especially when we acknowledged Gerry Adams – God’s secret agent – working behind the scenes.  To launch a church, people have to sacrifice and give a lot.  It’s easy to think about Kevin because he’s the face of Granite Springs.  But it was so good to acknowledge Gerry – who gave and sacrificed just as much as Kevin – maybe more.  Thank you Gerry for your quiet service, dedication, and graceful sacrifice.

Organizing the Painting Crew

It was a lot of work, but to see 20-25 people give their time and energy to paint Granite Springs Church during a hot July in 2017 was amazing.  It was so fun to work shoulder to shoulder with so many wonderful people.  You all helped the building look amazing!

Seeing people find a home at GS

I loved seeing people get rooted at Granite Springs.  From the first day they show up – shy and a bit unsure – to calling Granite Springs “home” and inviting others to come.  It makes me so happy when I see people on a Sunday morning who are fairly new getting connected, making friends, and having good conversations.

Working with the Elders and Deacons

A lot happens behind the scenes.  Being able to serve alongside Elders and Deacons who care deeply for the Granite Springs Congregation is truly moving.  They pray, they serve, visit, buy groceries, organize events and teams, advise, give, send cards and make phone calls.  They support the pastoral staff.  I’m grateful for such mature, loving adults who answer to the call to serve with such humility, dedication and grace.

Bless the Homes

You were very gracious to participate in some of our ministry “experiments.”  One of them being “bless the homes” – our epiphany practice.  So many of you invited me in your homes.  I felt so honored to come into your personal and private spaces to bless you and to pray for you.  In these moments, I truly felt like your pastor.  Thank you for your openness.  I’ll never forget praying in bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms, and offices.  I felt honored to anoint you with oil.  God is blessing you and keeping you.

Emmy’s song

Granite Springs is a teaching church.  We have a lot of interns working here.  I was so blessed to mentor Jana, Chan, Emmy, and Ben.  My favorite moment is when Emmy wrote a song with Aaron and she sang it on her last Sunday at GS.  It was so good – and she touched our hearts – we spontaneously rose and gave Emmy a standing ovation.  We exist in part to bless young leaders like Emmy – but quite often, the opposite happens, they bless us.  Thank you Emmy.

Aaron’s Worship Leadership

We are truly blessed to have Aaron as a worship leader.  I’ve worked with many, many worship leaders in my years in ministry – and truly – Aaron is one of the best.  The way he leads us in worship from the stage is an example to all – servant leadership that points us to God.  I think we can all agree that when Aaron is on stage, it’s never about Aaron.  That is a gift.  Not to mention his amazing songwriting abilities.  Aaron – YOU ROCK.  Thank you!

Pelusa’s heart

I was only able to work with Pelusa for about a year, but she was the real deal.  I’ve never worked with someone in ministry who loved people as much as Pelusa.  She would often be singing a song while she fluttered around the office.  The song on her lips was flowing from her  heart.  She would often whisper – “Thank you Jesus.”  It was all very sincere – without a hint of self-aware piety.  Thank you Pelusa.  Your presence was the presence of Jesus himself and your hugs were the embrace of God.  We miss you and we miss your hugs!

Kevin’s Vision

Kevin’s friendship and leadership have had a profound impact on my life.  Kevin’s emphasis on grace is refreshing and life-giving.  His leadership is playful, sincere, strong, winsome, and permission giving.  Other’s flourish under Him.  I know I have.  Thank you for creating space for me to come and work at Granite Springs (again).  I’m more grateful than you could ever know.

Honestly – I could go on and on.  But those are some of my favorite memories.  I’m sure there are many, many more to come, so keep your eyes open for “grace” moments.  Granite Springs – I will miss you.  Thank you for everything.  God bless you and keep you.

Pastor Sam


Sam – Thank you for the ways you have made all of us feel like we belong and have a home at Granite Springs. You will be so missed and we will be praying for you on your next journey in Michigan!

5 thoughts on “Dear Friends: A Letter from Sam”

  1. Bob & Dixie Johnson

    Sam – You are such a gentle spirit and so caring and loving to everyone. Wishing you and Kelly a wonderful life together. I know the people at your new church in Grand Rapids will love and care for both of you as you will be caring for them as well. You will be missed, and we will be praying for you.

  2. Sam – thank you for living and serving with a grateful heart at Granite Springs. May God bless you and Kelly in your new life in Michigan. We will miss you and be praying for you.

  3. Sam, you opened my eyes to a part of me that surprised me and started me on a new journey. This is a vision of positiveness that has shown me the grace of God. Thank you so much for your generous and loving kindness on this new journey. God Bless you Sam!! Lyn Hayes

  4. Dear Sam,

    I shall miss you. You are a gentle soul who has gone through many hardships already in your life. Gentle souls are touched by the people and events surrounding them. Even though you can’t play Fantasy Football very well, you preach from the Word and from your heart. As you travel on this new pathway, may you continue to study and preach God’s Word with passion and truth.
    In Him,

  5. I wish I could put into words the intense feeling of love amd peace I felt in the moment of my baptism. Sam, you’re acceptance of me and my family is what made me want to take that spiritual step and to make GS our church home. Thank you for being so kind and free of judgement. Blessings to you on your new journey.

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