Dear Church Family,
Back in January I told you I had decided to retire in June. That seemed a long time away. But, in the blink of an eye here it is, and this Sunday is our last Sunday together. What a wonderful 15 years this has been, and sometimes I think it has all flown by as fast as the last six months. After so long a time together, saying good-bye is not easy, nor should it be. We share many memories of joys, celebrations, losses, and challenges that have made us church together. We have brought our gifts and talents, offered them to God, and grown closer to God and one another in the process.
I am so very thankful for each of you. To have known you and worked with you has enriched my life beyond measure. But it truly is now time for the next stage, both for me and for you. I welcome, along with you, Rev. Joe Gunby and his family. One of the gifts of the United Methodist Church is the opportunity to work with various pastors over the years because each one brings new perspectives, new ideas, and new abilities to share.
I want to continue our ties of Christian love and friendship, but I would be disappointed if these ties interfered in any way with your relationship with Joe as your pastor. The best way to do that is to welcome Joe as your pastor and call him, not me, when you need a pastor, whether there is a death in the family or someone going to the hospital or the happy occasion of a wedding or baptism. When you need your pastor, call Joe, even if at present you don’t know him as well as you know me. This does not mean that I can never return. But he will be the pastor, and I will return to assist at his invitation.
This is the way the new pastor can minister and serve and be accepted. One pastor’s work ends where another’s begins. I can enjoy my retirement knowing that you are led by such a gifted pastor. Since I am not moving from Athens, I won’t say “good-bye” because I’m sure we’ll see each other from time to time.
Keep me in your prayers as I will keep you in mine. May the Lord bless you and keep you,
Grace and peace,