In late August 2014, I drove to the parsonage, after the moving van left the last parsonage. It was quite dark when I arrived and getting late, knowing that there was a way off of Coonpath to the church. I turned onto Coonpath, the wrong way. When I finally got to the house, there was tea, a mug, some snacks for me to settle with. After I told that story the next day, when I was met with a muffin and an ice tea, I learned that you always turn towards the fire-station. That is how I came here. Much has happened in the last years, there has been laughter and smiles, some tears and sadness, and you have been there for us through it all. You welcomed AJ and Andy, not really knowing them, since they were in college at the time. You always asked about them. You welcomed Jeff in your life and gave us a wonderful “cookie table” at our reception. You prayed and included my dad in your lives. For all that and more I am thankful and blessed.
Ecclesiastes 3:1.. “For everything there is a season,…” The season of transition and change is upon us. A season of looking at ourselves, both the church, and myself to see and hear and listen to where God is calling us to be. As you know, God has called me to move to a different place, and God is calling you to continue to be Grace United Church of Christ, to continue to welcome all, to walk the walk of faith and justice and to live into
Experiencing God’s grace, Seeking God’s mission, Sharing God’s love…
To know and live into this faith statement will continue to challenge you in your faith, but it is what God is calling you to do and be. You are called to be Grace United Church of Christ and to stand with all and welcome all into this church family. To not judge, but to be Jesus’ disciples, living and breathing, to be the progressive voice in Lancaster, Ohio.
I have been proud and honored to be your pastor. I love and have loved you deeply and with a strong faith. I have stood up for justice with you. Together we have shared the gift of shalom. We have opened the doors for everyone. We have had challenges and we have had easy times. We have had baptisms and deaths, we have had much laughter, and some tears. I shared with you, I talked about sharing hospitality, about welcoming strangers and helping them to feel at home, about using our gifts. I again invite you to welcome the stranger, to offer hospitality. You have lived into this gift of hospitality and I invite you to continue to grow into this.
There are some boundaries that we need to follow as I leave this ministry. As the Ordained Ministers code says,
I will not, upon my termination and departure from a ministry position, interfere with nor intrude upon the ministry of my successor. It is the expectation that upon departure, a pastor will not return to serve congregation nor serve members of the congregation in a pastoral capacity. For a minimum of one year, a minister will observe a no-contact boundary with congregants and will teach congregants to observe the same. This enables the past minister to fulfill the ministerial code of ethics, in support of the congregation’s relationship-building with a new minister.
–A resource from the MESA Ministry Team, 11/12/2015
I thank you for what you have taught me and that you have respected me as your pastor. How you have taken your baptismal promises seriously. How you have encouraged me and others in living and being who God is calling us to be. How you have loved my family and me unconditionally. It will be difficult to leave, there will be tears. Remember what Isaiah says in 43:4, “Because you are precious in my sight and honored, and I love you.”
Blessings, and love,