ANAHEIM, Calif. (Christian Examiner)—In 28 years of ministry Abel Galvan had only been recognized one other time during Pastor Appreciation Month. That made what happened at First Southern Baptist Church of Anaheim, Calif., last Sunday all the more special.
Besides hosting a special lunch in his honor, church members showered his family with greeting cards and gift cards to help pay for special evenings out as a family. Yet what meant the most to Galvan and his family didn't have a price tag on it.
"We had about ten minutes of just sharing," said Galvan, who serves as the church's children and family pastor. "Little kids, whom I've worked with, they got up and shared, 'Thank you for teaching us about Jesus.' Other people, 'Thank you for being an example of a godly family and just being there for us and encouraging us.'"
Galvan says the whole family stood up and were recognized by grateful church members. He called all the attention humbling.
"To hear them tell us what we meant to them was very touching because they were speaking from their heart," Galvan said. "It was a very emotional time. It was very humbling, too. As pastors, we don't really look to get the glory. We look to give it to God. But to hear people speaking to you personally meant a whole lot."
Galvan is one of a number of pastors throughout the United States being honored by their congregations in October during Pastor Appreciation Month. It was an experience that may have passed him by if it wasn't for the generosity of the church's senior pastor.
Realizing that most years he received the majority of the attention from the church during the month, Pastor Victor Chayasirisobhon asked the church to highlight ministry leaders other than himself this year. So for the 2015 Pastor Appreciation Month, the church highlighted Galvan during the first Sunday of the month. It will then highlight the youth pastor on the second Sunday, the worship pastor on the third Sunday and other ministry leaders on the fourth Sunday.
"I really appreciated our pastor's heart on this as he said, 'You know what, we always think about me. I want our people to think about you guys, the ones who serve them as well, not just me,'" Galvan said. "It was very meaningful to have them do that. I felt like we were cared about."
Ryan Low, who pastors Sunland Neighborhood Church in Sunland, Calif., says he too was encouraged by his church's generosity. Last Sunday the church honored its pastors with a special lunch and gave them greeting cards and gift cards to celebrate the occasion. Low is excited that the gift cards will provide for future date nights with his wife.
"It makes me feel appreciated, and it makes me feel like I'm loved by them," said Low, who has been at the church for five years. "I'm in awe of it because I haven't really experienced it from other churches. Seeing this has impacted my wife, too. She's like, 'I love this place.'"
Low says it has become an annual tradition at the church. Last year, church members remodeled his backyard and raised money to buy him a new deck for his house. Church members also got the church's youth minister tickets to a Los Angeles Dodgers playoff game.
For resources to help your church celebrate your pastor, download this guide from Focus on the Family.