Saturday, December 7, 2013

Merry Christmas from Odessa, Texas!

December 2013
To All Our Stolpe Star Friends and Family,
 We finished up our interim pastor ministry with First Christian Church of Midwest City, OK in May and started the next adventure with First Christian Church of Odessa, TX in mid-June. We were in the backwash of the tornado that devastated Moore, OK, and had driven less than an hour south of the one that closed the interstate in Oklahoma City the day we left Midwest City.
Leanne and Jon, Hannah and Isaac on mission trip in Guatemala
Sam and Elizabeth with cousins Jenna and William
We had hoped this third interim pastorate might allow us to serve from our home in Dallas. After a seemingly last minute phone interview, we had to decide between two congregations, and subsequent events have confirmed the unexpected was the right choice.
Sam playing at his piano recital
Isaac and his piano teacher at competition
 Odessa is in the Permian Basin about 360 miles west of Dallas. With the oil boom, population has grown to almost 100,000 (slightly smaller than neighboring Midland). Culture is distinct from the DFW Metroplex, colored by boom-bust economy alongside families who settled here generations ago. The church was founded in 1906 in downtown that has changed dramatically in the last decades. As interim pastor, I am guiding them to explore their future mission, perhaps in a new location, possibly in cooperation with another congregation as they seek a new pastor to lead them into this unfolding future.
Elizabeth's smile

Hannah, sweet sixteen
After Easter we traveled to Wisconsin to spend time with Rachel and David, Sam and Elizabeth. We got to see Norm’s Mom in IL, and Norm’s nephew, Tom, and his family was there too, before their family went to Guam for 30 months with the Navy. Candy’s Dad came down from Minneapolis to Milwaukee for a few days.
Fourteenth Anniversary
Together in Guatemala
In October, we went to Dallas for Central Christian Church’s 150th Anniversary, after which Candy got another visit with David’s family in Milwaukee. Sam is now in middle school and Elizabeth in first grade.
Midwest City farewell

Erik listens to music (or plays video game)
Leanne started a new job as a pre-school teacher, which she is thoroughly enjoying. Erik also started a new job as a Recovery Analyst with Real Time Resolutions (helping people restructure mortgages), with hours that work better with his music than restaurant management.
Backyard visitor in Midwest City

Patio garden at house where we are living in Odessa
Now close to halfway into our third interim pastorate, we are getting into the rhythm of this stage of our lives, and it fits! In retrospect, we are recognizing how appropriate each season of life has been: para-church Christian education, associate pastoral ministry, senior pastor, now interim pastor. Students, newlyweds, young parents, parents of young adults, grandparents. Now with adolescent and growing grandchildren, we observe our children and their families embracing their own seasons with joy and purpose. We are thankful to each have a living parent but recognize that we are fast becoming the senior generation. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel – God with us. Surely God has been with us as Jesus has guided us on this journey, and we know we can depend on him to accompany us to its culmination.
Merry Christmas!
Norman and Candy Stolpe
3154 Flowerdale Lane
Dallas, Texas 75229

First Christian Church
601 N. Lee Ave.
Odessa, TX 79761



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