Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rebirth and Light

By Will Bublitz

The message of the recent Easter holiday is about the rebirth of light and life after the darkness of death.

That same kind of message is behind the name change taking place at a Limon church.

“We are changing our church’s name from Life in Christ Church to the Lighthouse Worship Center,” Pastor Melanie Taylor said. “This is our way of declaring to the community that we have risen from the ashes and are shining as a beacon of hope and light to those who may be suffering in their lives.”
Melanie said the new name helps to symbolize the goals of her church.

“It communicates our identity better,” she said. “It also represents a meaningful shift in our outlook and mission to ourselves and to others around the community. This new name minimizes exclusion and confusion. It is also a symbol of welcome and encouragement to all people no matter their race, church affiliation or background.”

The name change is also a sign the local church has finally overcome a major tragedy when its former pastor Rick Taylor and his daughter Bethany were killed in a car accident on March 27, 2009.
Their deaths were not only a tragedy for the congregation, but also a personal one for Melanie, who was Rick’s wife and Bethany’s mother, as well as their immediate family that includes daughters Amanda and Heather and son Lucas.

“We have been healing from that trauma and learning who God is and who we are in Him,” Melanie said. “We felt the Lord was leading us to declare a new season for the church. The change of the church’s name reflects who we have become and honors Pastor Rick and Bethany for who they were to the church and our community.”

Understandably, the deaths of her husband and daughter hit Melanie very hard. Rick and she had been high school sweethearts and had been married since 1985. Bethany, their third daughter, was 17 years old at the time of the accident.

“Just the day after their funeral, I was praying to the Lord to ask Him what was I supposed to do now and who am I without my husband who I’d been with for more than 25 years?” Melanie said. “I was a stay-at-home mom and wife and never regretted a moment of it, but now what? Rick had been the church’s pastor since 2001, and I wondered if the assignment here in Limon was over, as well as all the dreams and promises that we had for the church and community?”

As she prayed, Melanie said an answer came in the form of a Gospel song that she was playing at that moment to provide some comfort from her grief.

“The song was ‘God of this City” by Chris Tomlin,” she said. “The lyrics are: ‘You’re the God of this city, You’re the King of these people, You’re the Lord of this nation, You are! You’re the Light in the darkness, you’re the Hope of the hopeless, You’re the Peace to the restless, You are! There is no one like our God! For greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city!’
“I instantly knew that the Lord was saying to me that I still had a purpose for being here. I knew that greater things were going to be done here. Those hopes, dreams and words could still be fulfilled. I told the Lord, ‘not my will, but His’, and that I will do whatever He asks me to do to bring Him glory.”

With that inspiration, Melanie dedicated herself to working for the Limon church and its members.
“At the time, I had no idea that God would be asking me to continue pastoring the church,” she said. “As a church, we were seeking a new pastor. We had several interim pastors who helped with the preaching on Sundays, while I continued to help with the process of grief as well as care for the needs of our congregation during the rest of the week.”

During those interim years, Melanie became a certified Biblical counselor to better help the church’s members. She also led the weekly Bible studies and performed other ministerial duties on an unofficial basis.

Many times during that interim period, congregants and church leaders encouraged her to assume the church’s leadership, saying she was already the church’s pastor. However, Melanie said she had always resisted “the call” up to that point and was even considering moving.

“That changed after much prayer prayer and many confirmations, including a dramatic incident that happened to me in 2012 at a conference in Arizona,” she said. “A gentleman I had never met, or who knew anything about me or my situation, came up to me and spoke to me saying: ‘You don’t just serve in the church; you have the mantle for that church. The mantle is on you. You cannot leave. You need to stay. You are the pastor. Revival will come there. The supernatural signs, wonders and miracles will be seen. Don’t be afraid. You will see revival and a harvest in that region.’

“At that point, I decided I had to obey the Lord and pick up the mantle wholeheartedly, not waiting for someone else to come and fill the place,” Melanie said. “I had to embrace what the Lord was placing on me. The Lord was asking me to trust and obey Him rather than leaning on my own understanding or fearing what others may think or feel about it.

“So I finally agreed that I would continue to lead the church, moving forward its vision and mission. I also would continue to serve, love and pursue the promises and glory of God for this region officially as this church’s ordained and commissioned pastor.”

For those who may not be familiar with the Lighthouse Worship Center (formerly the Life in Christ Church), it is a non-denominational Protestant church located at 630 E Avenue.

“We are a Bible-based, Christ-centered, spirit-led family that passionately loves God and one another,” Melanie said. “We are here to host and minister God’s presence and kingdom life to each other, our town, region and world for kingdom transformation and advancement.

“God’s purpose for our building and location is not just to house a local church,” she said. “It is also to be a center of ministries that serves and partners with the larger body of Christ to build God’s kingdom in Limon and across the globe. Our desire is not to be in competition with other churches here, but to work together to see our town become all it can be.”

To celebrate its new name, the Lighthouse Worship Center will be hosting an open house Saturday and Sunday, April 18-19. The open house will be from 3-5 p.m. Saturday with an evening service starting at 7 p.m. Its regular Sunday service begins at 10 a.m.

“We invite everyone to stop by and visit us,” Melanie said. “Gordon Hofer will be our guest speaker Saturday evening and Sunday morning. He is the gentleman that spoke those words to me in 2012. He has been here several times speaking identity and destiny to our church and individuals in the community. We will also be hosting other special ministers who have helped and imparted much to us during our journey.”

As the Lighthouse Worship Center celebrates its new beginning, Melanie said the local church will always be ready to help those in need.

“We want everyone to know that we have experienced the faithfulness of God through very tragic loss and have overcome,” she said. “We would be privileged help and support others in their time of need in their darkest of situations.”

(Note: In the photo accompanying this article, the family members pictured in the lighthouse memorial garden located in front of the church are: top row (l-r) – Bo Randolph, daughter Alexis; Lucas Taylor; Pastor Melanie Taylor (holding photo of Pastor Rick Taylor and daughter Bethany); bottom row – Heather Randolph, sons Avery and Max (in baby carrier).

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