August 5, 2022
Dear House of Prayer family and friends,
When I was in seminary years ago, I did my clinical pastoral care work at Miriam Hospital in Rhode Island. As a chaplain intern there, I visited patients and accompanied them as they got better, struggled through treatments, or faced their deaths. I cared about them, and I would bring all their hopes and fears home with me – a pattern that I knew wasn’t healthy for chaplains. When I shared that struggle with my wise supervisor, here’s what he suggested. At the end of each day, I could go to the chapel and, as I read my notes and recalled each visit, I could remember that God was with that person before I came, God was with us when we were together, and God would be with them after I left. I did that for each patient, and it proved to be a helpful, comforting, prayerful practice. I knew that God would be there, even when I wasn’t.
That seems like a good story to share with you as I announce my retirement this fall. God was with you before I came, God has been with us while we have been together, and God will be with you after I go. Retirement has been on my mind for a couple years, and I’ve tried to listen for God’s timing for it – for the right timing for me and for the congregation. In my next Tidings article, I’ll say a little more about that. I love being your pastor, and I love you. I’m thankful for how we have been together as pastor and people for the past fourteen years, and I’ve done my best to serve God faithfully as your pastor.
My last Sunday will be October 9. I’ll be on vacation and on silent retreat for the rest of that month, and I’ll officially retire on November 1, 2022.
This will be a time of great change both for the congregation and for me. Associate to the Bishop Kim Bergstrand will guide you through the process that leads to calling a new pastor. My children and their families are looking forward to our having more time together, and I’ll move to Rhode Island to be closer to them as I figure out how to love and serve God when I’m no longer doing that as a parish pastor.
I know my decision to retire comes as a surprise and that it’s likely to evoke a mix of feelings in you, as it certainly does in me. In the weeks ahead, we’ll have time to acknowledge those feelings, to grieve and to celebrate, and to address the anxiety that’s bound to arise when there’s a pastoral transition. And when the time comes for us to say goodbye, we will remember together that God was with you before I came, God has been with us during the fourteen years we’ve been together, and God will be with you always.
Grace and peace – and much love,