Reflections by Ken Noecker, Presiding Elder of the Servants of the Word. In addition to Ken’s presiding elder responsibilities, he is involved in community building in Asia for the Sword of the Spirit. Until recently he had been based in the Philippines for many years.

Filipinos have a saying which could roughly be translated as, He who does not know how to look to where he has come from will never arrive at where he is going. The idea is that in order to achieve our aims we must never cut ourselves off from our origins. Or, to put it another way, a tree cannot survive, let alone prosper, if it is cut from its roots.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Servants of the Word. As we celebrate this occasion, we look back and reflect on our beginnings, our early years. We remember the people and environments that formed us into what we are today and thus gain a vision of what God is calling us to be in the years to come. We reflect on and give thanks for the Charismatic Renewal that touched the mainline churches in the 1960s; its spiritual vitality provided the impetus for our birth.

We call to mind the beginnings of covenant communities and especially of The Word of God community in Ann Arbor, Michigan, into which we were born and where we grew. We give thanks for the Sword of the Spirit, the worldwide community movement which provides the current context for our life and our mission. We give thanks for Steve Clark, our founder, and for people like Bruce Yocum, Don Schwager, and Dick LaCroix who were among the first men to make a lifelong commitment to our rule of life.

As we look ahead to our future we are filled with gratitude for the young men the Lord is adding to our life – those who are taking into their hearts and onto their backs the life and mission of the Servants of the Word. This year we witnessed four men from four different nations making lifelong commitments to the brotherhood. This addition of men from other nations points to where the Lord is leading us – to the ends of the world for the sake of the proclamation of the Gospel to all peoples and languages. We came to birth 45 years ago as a local brotherhood with membership coming primarily from Michigan. We find ourselves now with brothers from at least 18 nations, with houses in six countries and with mission that covers dozens more.

Many countries have a Thanksgiving Day or its equivalent. We in The Servants of the Word offer our thanks to the Lord for the many blessings he has bestowed upon us this year and over past forty-five.

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Adapted from Living Bulwark, December/January 2016, used with permission. © The Servants of the Word