Phil Cook
Dear friends,
I have often wanted to write a sermon series based on country music, because there is a lot of good (and bad!) theology in country songs. If this letter were a part of that series, it would be based on Garth Brooks’ song “Some of God’s Greatest Gifts Are Unanswered Prayers.”
Nine years ago, we started at Trinity. We had never wanted to leave Texas, and yet we found this great community here and felt God’s call, and so we made the move. Since that time, we’ve done our best to put down roots, and I’ve poured myself into leading and guiding this congregation. Seven years ago, a member of Trinity asked me to join the board of Lutheran Urban Mission Agency (LUMA), and I found another way to serve God in my free time.
A few months ago, Trinity was going through its call process for a new senior pastor. We had put down roots here, and becoming the senior pastor was something that I had very much set my hopes and dreams on. When I did not receive that call, I was disappointed, hurt, and confused. I was unsure where God was and why he wasn’t answering my prayers.
In a nearly parallel timeframe, LUMA had been searching for an Executive Director. In December, we had issued a call to a very talented candidate that we felt sure would accept. In late January, the candidate declined the call. At that time, the Board for LUMA asked if I would consider serving in that role.
I have always had a missionary heart and a desire to see the gospel come to “every nation, tribe, people and language (Rev 7:9).” Some of my earliest spiritually formative experiences were taking short term mission trips to Mexico, and I can trace that continuing missionary theme throughout my life. Over the last seven years, I have come to believe in LUMA’s vision to help the fullness of the Gospel become a reality among the diverse cultures, generations, and communities of greater Kansas City. For this reason, I am accepting the call to become the next Executive Director of Lutheran Urban Mission Agency.
Given the timing and context of this call, I want to be clear on something. This is not a “sour grapes” decision or me running away in bitterness and disappointment. Had you offered me both the call to LUMA and the call to be senior pastor at Trinity at the same time, I would have chosen the call to LUMA. I believe this is God’s call and will for my life at this time. Truly, I thank God for unanswered prayers.
This is also, truly, a missionary endeavor. I will not be starting full time, but instead will be raising my support as I go. I would humbly ask that you not merely “release” me from my call here at Trinity, but instead “send” me from your hearts into the greater Kansas City mission field. I would ask that in this sending, you continuously support me with your prayers. I would ask that by doing so, you might see yourself as a part of the larger mission of God’s Church. If you would like to receive regular updates and prayer letters, please send me a note at or fill out this form and I will add you to that distribution list.
I realize that for many of you, this is not the answer to prayer that you had hoped for and that there may be some disappointment, hurt, and confusion. My prayer for you is that, in time, you may come to understand what God is doing here and that you, too, may come to thank God for unanswered prayers.
As I transition to this new phase of ministry, my last Sunday at Mission will be May 5th, and my last Sunday at Shawnee will be May 12th. I love you all very much. I have been blessed to be your pastor for the last nine years. I pray that we may continue to work together in the Kansas City vineyard.
In Christ,
Pastor Phil Cook
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