Welcome to Exeter

By Dayton Kitterman

“Welcome to Exeter.” Over and over that friendly phrase has been directed my way in the last few weeks. What a wonderful atmosphere walking downtown, enjoying casual conversations, meeting new acquaintances and coming across some old familiar faces. It is a joy to be back in Exeter after a 30-year hiatus. More about that in a moment.

Recently, the Sun-Gazette carried the “goodbye” article of my good friend Pastor Michael Guzman. He has just finished his last few days of a 14-year ministry at the Church of God of Exeter and he leaves behind a large group of Jesus followers who dearly love him and have learned to love each other under his pastoral care. “Goodbye” Pastor Michael. You are loved by your church and the community you have served. We are better because of your love for Jesus and your serving Him here. Blessings to you.

About 40 years ago, I began a ministry as the lead pastor of a small community church in the Lindcove area. I served as the Lead Pastor at the Lindcove Community Bible Church for 10 years around 1979–1989. Many of the formative years of my four children were shaped here. Sequoia Union and Exeter High left their mark, too. Some of my most fond memories were formed in this locale. It was during these years that Exeter became very much part of my life and routine.  I ended up leaving Lindcove for the metropolis of Visalia and began the next chapter in my life as the Lead Pastor of Faith Community Church. For the past 30 years I have provided leadership to this great church and I will continue to be their lead pastor as I begin a new additional ministry serving the Church of God of Exeter as Interim Pastor. Already, the Exeter Ministerial Association has invited me to be with them, again. I was surprised to see so many familiar faces. Much older faces, but familiar none-the-less. Thirty years can do that to a person! This kind of “Welcome to Exeter” has been extended to me several times.

I can’t help but reflect on some wisdom filled words from a very intelligent man. King Solomon said, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3 NIV). Reflecting on the life and ministry of my friend, Pastor Michael Guzman, I see the tangible reality of these words. He serves as a model of an ordinary, regular man who chose to have his heart belong to God and whose life reflects God’s blessing. Not only have I seen this in Pastor Michael’s life, but I have seen it in countless others who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ. Lives committed to God resulting in a continuing legacy of significance. Sounds like something good.

In a nutshell this is the way things are: Any individual who chooses to live connected to Jesus Christ, following Him as their Lord will find life… meaningful life, productive life, fulfilling life.

“Welcome to Exeter” can become the phrase that leads you to a good church (there are many here), a relationship with God and a life better than anything you could conceive.

Dayton Kitterman is the interim pastor at the Church of God of Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2631.

Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church. 

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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