I count myself blessed to have served this church for more than thirty years. When I consider my time here, I am reminded of Psalm 16. I am particularly fond of verse 3 which declares, “As for the saints in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight,” and of verse 6 which declares, “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.”
It was reported to me that a visitor to our Farmer’s Market said, “I think I have stumbled into a Hallmark Movie.” Had I heard her, I would have responded, “Yes, we are a Hallmark congregation, for we know that when God sent us his son, God cared enough to send the very best.” How does the author of the 4th gospel put it: “The law was given through Moses,” but we have all received “wave after wave of grace in Jesus Christ.” Most of us agree that grace is all we want, and all we want to give.
Despite my pleasure in your company, the time has come for me to close a long chapter and retire from this pastorate. I will do that on Sunday, October 28th, 2018. This congregation will face new challenges, but with every challenge, there is an opportunity, and I believe that your best days are ahead.
Why am I leaving? There are a number of reasons: 1) I am leaving because I am 69, and I am confident that this is the right time for me. 2) I am leaving because I want to spend time with my wife, Elayne, and we want to spend more time with our children and grandchildren. 3) I am leaving because I want to be responsive to the needs of my mother, Henrietta, who suffers from dementia and is making the long good-by and awaits promotion to the higher service. Her illness is one of the most challenging things Elayne and I have ever faced. Finally, I am leaving because all these things—and many others besides, point to my leaving as the will of God. Though I will miss being your pastor, I look forward to new freedom in a new chapter of life. Whatever I do, I hope to do the work of a witness.
After my departure, you will have an interim to help guide you into the future. However, I still have almost three months left to set the stage for the better days that are coming. In three decades here, we have learned a few things from our successes and failures. We have a lot to talk about. If you care about your church, please make every effort to be in attendance. I would count it as a personal favor. It will certainly impress those pastors who are already starting to contemplate what it might be like to serve here with you.