December 11, 2017
Beloved family of Union Church,
If you were in church yesterday, you heard the news that I have been offered and have accepted a call to be the Designated Interim Pastor of Immanuel United Church of Christ in Louisville. This means, of course, that I will resign my position as Associate Pastor of Union Church, effective Feb. 11, 2018.
Please know that this decision was not made without great grief over leaving the Union Church community. This is an incredibly special place, and even more special people. I have so much love for you, and you have supported and helped me in so many ways over these five years. We have cried and laughed together, prayed and sung together, worshiped and celebrated together. You can’t do all that without making indelible imprints on each others’ hearts. You have certainly imprinted mine.
This move represents a great opportunity for both my family and me. At IUCC, I will be the head of staff, tasked with helping them walk through a visioning and planning process. They said that what they needed most was someone who could help them with both justice and joy. I felt the Spirit calling.
This will also mean that, as soon as we are able to make it happen, Les, Jack, the new baby and I will all be able to live and work in the same town. We were never able to make that happen in Berea despite great efforts, and it has become very hard with a child to make the commuting life work sustainably. This opportunity represents a new chance for us, and a bit more sanity.
Over the next two months, you and we will have time to say our farewells, share tears and laughter, and pray for our futures. We will find ways and times to offer intentional space for this. A recent devotional I read quotes Dartmouth Medical Professor Ira Byock on the most important things to say at a time of death or other major transition. He said that there are eleven essential words to say at these times: “Please forgive me. I forgive you. I love you. Thank you.” Between now and February, I hope that we find times to offer these words and blessings to one another.
In Advent, we hear words from prophets speaking to people in great turmoil and pain. The prophets promise that God is with us, preparing the way for us and our salvation, our return to wholeness with God. I have great faith that this message still holds true for us. “Comfort, comfort, O my people,” Isaiah says. I believe God is preparing great things for my family and me, and at the same time great things for Union Church. The path now may seem rocky, but as all of us work together in community, we will clear the way for God’s blessings and redemption.
In gratitude and grace,
December 11, 2017