Learning to say good bye

My leaving First UMC is now made official. Last Sunday during our worship service the chair of Staff/Parish Relations Committee Becky Buxton read the letter from Rev. Sione Tukutau, the District Superintendent, announcing my appointment to Wheat Ridge UMC, Colorado effective July 1st. It is now time to prepare for the transition in earnest. I hold all of you and our church in my prayers; I ask for your prayer for me, my family and the congregation receiving me as their new pastor also.

I am grateful for the way you supported and sustained me while I grieved the loss of my son for much of my time with you. You have taught me much about faith, about ministry, and about who I am as a person and a minister. You have made me a better person and a better minister. I hope somehow I have contributed to your growth as a church, to your maturing as a body of Christ. I know I have made many mistakes and even hurt some of you with my words and deeds; I ask for your forgiveness. And if I have shown you the grace and love of God in some way, let us praise and give thanks to God.

There is a beautiful litany for saying farewell to a pastor in the United Methodist Book of Worship in which the departing pastor says:

I am grateful for the ways my leadership has been accepted. I ask forgiveness for the mistakes I have made. As I leave, I carry with me all that I have learned here.

Then the congregation responds:

We receive your thankfulness, offer forgiveness, and accept that you now leave to minister elsewhere. We express our gratitude for your time among us. We ask your forgiveness for our mistakes. Your influence on our faith and faithfulness will not leave us with your departure.

While I recognize my humanness, I affirm our common hope and vision that is in God and of God.

You have been working on clarifying your common vision past several months. Your new pastor will bring with him/her the unique gifts and grace, passion and vision. It is an exciting time. I think of the wonderful word “synergy”. May you receive your new pastor with openness toward each other and the brand new future God is bringing into your midst.

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