Dear Zion Family,
As I write this, I am remembering these words from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (from the Message)—
There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.
These words offer guidance, and comfort as we enter this season of transitions.
During our four years together, we have probably experienced almost everything on this list. I remember the baptisms, weddings, funerals, cups of coffee, Wednesday night suppers, Lenten series, Advent activities, mission trips, youth galas, youth group hang outs, confirmation classes, Sunday school mornings, VBS weeks, singing, praying, preaching, fellowship, and friendship. I will savor it all! There was some tearing down of old ideas and planting of new ideas, some disagreements and some resolutions, some remembering and some forgiving, We have collected candy for trunk or treat, items for the Reverse Advent calendar, books for a Library in Zambia, medical supplies for Mission Jamaica. We have laughed and cried, mourned and danced and ate way too many doughnut holes and meatballs (sorry Lute lovers)! We have said goodbye to beloved members who have moved or have died and we have welcomed new people. We remodeled the youth room, built the Blessing Closet garage, strengthened partnerships with mission partners and weathered transitions in staff. We have survived VBS week, played at Camp Wapo/Ox Lake and embraced our history while worshiping at Marysville.
Throughout it all, we have grown in wonderful ways while experiencing a great deal of mercy, grace, joy and love! I have always believed that a pastor is called to a particular place, for a particular time, with a particular purpose to a particular group of people in a particular community. We may have not accomplished everything that I had hoped for; yet still much was accomplished. It was always my intention to serve with integrity, passion, and grace. My time at Zion has seen the building on already established ministries and the founding of new ministries. My time at Zion has seen love and support, critiques and growth edges. I will remember my time at Zion with great fondness as a time when I grew in my confidence as pastor, was embraced by all the generations, and walked through times of challenges with a grateful heart and strength that can only come from God. As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:7, there is a time to keep silent and there is a time to speak. In my time at Zion I have experienced both. A time to watch and observe, a time to allow others to speak and for me to deeply listen. I have also found moments to speak up, to take a stand where I feel God is leading and speak for what feels to be right. I do find this time of transition as a time to speak.
The words I want to say to Zion in this time in this place is: You are the people of God, you must continue to come together to be God’s hands and feet in this world. I also feel the need to have a moment of great honesty with you, my time at Zion has not always been easy. God does not promise life will be easy. God simply promises we will never be alone. So my challenge for Zion is to continue to be God’s people, continue to listen to how God is calling you to be an active part of the ministry of God in this place. And a final word in this moment of honesty, please ask yourself “am I a part of the problem or am I helping to find and work towards a solution.”
This season brings with it many unknowns and as Mary Lindberg says in The Graceful Exit,
So we’ll open the gifts Jesus gave us—a home in him, the courage to move on, the peace that will get us through many unknowns. And we’ll trust that God is staying with those we love for many more seasons.
Our stories will forever be intertwined, the people of Zion are part of my story, and I a part of your story at Zion. Thank you for all of your patience, kindness, mercy, grace, generosity and love that you have shown me! Thank you for the moments of challenge and helping me grow. My decision to leave Zion has be the hardest moment of discernment in my life, but I am trying to be faithful to the call of the Spirit. I don’t feel done at Zion, and yet I do feel God’s call on my life to continue serving by tending to God’s sheep at Camp Wapo & Ox Lake. You are an amazing group of people and I wish you all the best in this new season that you are about to begin. May you continue to grow in faith, hope and love, and remember to love God and love people. With tears in my eyes and gratitude in my heart I say “until we meet again.”