Cap's Corner: Pastor Cap says Goodbye to Blackwell

by Cap Mcilnay

I want all of my readers to understand just how grateful and blessed I have been in writing for the Blackwell Journal-Tribune each week. I am sure I don’t always get it right, but in the writing I have found a delightful exercise of thinking about God, His Word, and His Son, and that has always been right for me.

However, it isn’t just in the writing that I have been blessed in being a pastor in Blackwell. We all know that this town has issues, many issues, and some of them are of our own doing. But many look back and remember just how wonderful and how beautiful this town once was.

Well, it has been my experience, the vast majority of the time, that this town still is wonderful and beautiful. My wife and I are not from here. We were asked, “What year did you graduate?” We were like, “What the heck are you talking about?” But this is natural in small towns. What has not been natural is the level of acceptance and love my wife has felt from all people within this town since Day One.

I remember when we moved here in June of 2014 that it didn’t take long for us to be amazed at the level of the sense of community within this community. You made it easy for me to want to be a part of it, and you allowed me to be a part of it. I cannot thank you enough for all of the blessings that I have received for this. My wife teases me and calls me the “Pastor of Blackwell.” Of course, that isn’t true. There are many good and faithful pastors within this community that have been taking care of their churches and Blackwell for many more years than I have. Maybe I just have a bigger mouth. But for whatever reason, I have received more than my share of praises that my brothers and sisters behind the pulpit deserve to have had as well.

We have walked together through floods, recalls, water issues, and so much more. But even more importantly, we have been together through so many prayers. We came together to pray for some time at the new event center; many of us have walked or driven around our town, praying up and down each street. I have been stopped and asked to pray for people in restaurants, Walmart, and even in the produce section of United.

When Jesus was about to leave, He gave a new commandment to love each other as He has loved us. Many times, that is exactly what we have done. Not all of the times, but many of the times.

But, I have some news for you, and some of you have already heard: Come this June, my wife and I are being appointed to another church in central Oklahoma.

Of course, there is a certain level of excitement and a sense of an adventure. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that this comes with a great deal of pain for me as well. So many of you have become very dear to me. I have friends and colleagues here, I have church members, and I have people that I love and who have loved me – and I am having to say goodbye to them. Of course, this doesn’t mean we will never speak to each other again (one of the few blessings of social media), but it does mean that it will all be different from this point on.

I want the people of Braman to understand that this is true for them, too. I was called to be their pastor as well back in June 2019, and they have been both a pleasure and a blessing – even if they are more likely to talk back at me in the middle of my sermons!

The first “knee-jerk” reaction that I have had, as have many others, was filled with emotions. There is pain there, there is a sense of shock, and there is certainly a sense of loss. However, this is our human side operating within us, but that IS NOT WHO OR WHAT WE ARE! It is good and natural to express our human pain and loss, but we do not act or react from that place.

Our faith tells us – it demands of us – to act and react within the strength of our faith. God is in this! Did you hear that? God is in this! Since when has God ever shown you the full picture of anything? He doesn’t operate that way. God, most often, shows us just enough to allow us to take that next step, and we do so in faith. Faith in where God is directing us is God’s will and not ours; it will be for our own benefit, and we are called to trust God.

This is true for me. Do I wonder what will the people be like, what will the church be like, and what the town will be like? Will they accept me as openly as you all did? Will they accept my wife? What will the parsonage be like? Is it bigger, smaller, older? Does it smell bad? So many other questions are haunting my thoughts, but I cannot and will not allow them to make a home. My faith tells me that God will be there, and that God has this.

For my two churches, you will be receiving a new pastor, and there are concerns and worries that are haunting your thoughts. Will the pastor be a man or a woman? Will they be conservative or progressive? Will he or she like you? Will they like their parsonage? Your questions go on and on.

Same for this community. So many have told me that I have done so much for this community. But the truth is that this community has done so much for me. Like any other relationship, you get out what you put in. If you put love in, that is what you will receive, and all of us, myself included, need to remember this.

Moving forward, let us all try to remember that God is in all of this. Our faith dictates that we are to operate out of love and not fear, and that is what we shall do. Also, I will continue to write an article for you in the Blackwell Journal-Tribune, at least for a time.

God bless each and every one of you,

Pastor Cap