On November 20, I shared with the church Session and then with the congregation by email and church Facebook a letter announcing that I would be leaving at the end of 2016 to take a call as transitional pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Morganton, NC.
The opportunity and the change has surprised me as much as anyone. It has come a year earlier than I expected, as my husband, Bill, will not be retiring from his position until the end of 2017. Many of you are asking about the timing and other specifics of this move.
This has been a difficult decision, as I have come to love each one of you dearly. You have accepted me, let me be your pastor and worked hard alongside me, while offering me generous compensation.
Because of my generation and my gender, calls to pastorates have been a long time coming. This call offers an opportunity to serve one more congregation before retirement. It will also help us transition to an area closer to our children and grandchildren and particularly our son with disabilities.
For the transition time, Bill and I will arrange temporary housing near our ministries. We are not separating, as rumors may suggest. And neither of us will be living in a RV trailer in the church parking lot, as Bill has suggested in his campaign to get to buy one for retirement.
I plan to serve here until the end of 2016. My last Sunday with you will be Christmas Day. I have asked the Session to call a congregational meeting for Sunday, December 4 to dissolve the relationship between myself and the congregation. The Session will be securing a transitional pastor to begin as soon as possible. In the meantime, pulpit guests will be scheduled.
At my installation in 2010, I asked the choir to begin the service with a hymn that was for me a message for our journey together. I share the words again for us:
Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let me be your servant too
We are pilgrims on the journey
We ‘re together on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load
I will hold the Christ light for you
In the night time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through.
When we sing to God in heaven
We shall find such harmony
Born to all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony
I trust in the providence of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, and I believe that God is in the provision of this new ministry. It is with that same assurance that I know that God is already at work preparing the heart and mind of your next pastor. Please know that you have given me more than I could have ever given you, and the gift of being your pastor has been life transforming for me. With love and gratitude,