I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. - Philippians 1:3-5
Lately, Kathy and I have noticed that we cannot look at any of your faces without conjuring a memory that is important to us. As the days draw closer to our retirement on August 31, those memories wash over us like a flood of thankfulness. You have invited us into your lives for nearly three decades. We've always known those were privileged, holy moments given to us by God. Few pastors are afforded 28 years in the same Call, which includes the intimacy and trust that such a long tenure creates. It has been our privilege to share in your joys and sorrows, triumphs and defeats, births and deaths as ones called to this purpose. We could imagine no better congregation and community to live into our Calls. You watched us grow as pastors and people and supported us as parents and partners. You've tolerated our foibles, laughed at our mistakes, and forgiven our transgressions when we were the ones with a log in our eyes. We have always felt that we were the lucky ones to live in this special relationship defined by God's grace and yours … and we hope you have too. Living by grace is, after all, our tradition's bedrock theological claim.
It's hard to imagine concluding this 28-year run of ministry together with you. But end it must. And to be clear, Kathy and I will abide by the wisdom of the church to make it a clean ending. Starting September 1, you will have new interim pastors responsible for preaching God's Word, your pastoral care, performing pastoral acts like weddings, baptisms, funerals, etc., and the pastoral leadership of the congregation. We feel honored that some of you have asked us if we could still lead your funeral/memorial service or other special family events. We know how special those days are, and we are certain that your new pastor(s) will want to celebrate those days with you as your pastor. We would be honored to be among your guests for those days, celebrating with you too.
We were so happy to hear that Reverends Dave Brauer-Rieke, and Tom Tweed will serve Messiah as interim pastors. Kathy and I have nothing but admiration and respect for both of them, and we were delighted that the Bishop's Office and Church Leadership Team were able to bring them to Messiah. You're getting an 'A' team.
We are especially grateful for our special and long relationships with Messiah's staff and Leadership Team members. They have always supported us in our ministry and allowed us to experiment, a sign of their great trust in God and us.
As we leave Messiah, know that you will continue to be in our prayers through this transition and beyond. We conclude our Calls grateful to carry a lifetime's worth of memories characterized by God showing up in the most unexpected moments and surprising places. Thank you for making that possible. And know that we continue to entrust the future (yours and ours) to God's good hands.
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