Many of you have either: encountered me and heard the news, read the email, or spoken with someone, and know that I will soon be ending my ministry with First Christian Church in Paris.
I have had the privilege to serve each of you these past 7 (plus!) years and it has been a complete joy! With the youth I’ve had many wonderful experiences: mission trips, youth meetings, Youth Sundays, Christmas pageants, ski outings, roller skating, laser tag, lock-ins, ropes courses, summer camps, Sunday school classes, text messages and ice cream on visits to sit and chat at The Rock or Dairy Queen. With the children there’s been: Vacation Bible Schools, trips to Monkey Joe’s, more Sunday school classes (though fewer than the older kids), a mock-lock-in, outreach projects and a trip to “love the hungry,” Children’s Sabbaths and prayer vigils and, again, Christmas pageants.
I’ve preached a little and taught a lot and prayed more than anyone will ever truly know. I’ve been with you through births and deaths and hospital stays and awaited test results with many. I’ve laughed a lot and cried quite a bit, as well. I’ve worried about the ones you worry about and I’ve celebrated all the monumental things you celebrate…and even some of the minor things that bring on the cheers. I’ve knitted and hugged, had pies in the face and been doused by water balloons. I’ve eaten, and eaten and eaten through hundreds and hundreds of church meals and consumed far more pizza and hot dogs than any woman my age should ever eat! I celebrated your 185th anniversary and your 190th with you. I’ve planned and plotted events and services. I’ve counseled and advised, sat in court rooms and gone to prison! I led meetings and attended meetings, and meetings and meetings and more meetings! But even these were filled with all the joys that come from engaging in fellowship with those you love.
I’ve gotten to know so many of you in so many very special ways…so much so, that my heart has a spot within it that looks incredibly like this church! So, yes, it is very hard to say good-bye, but it is time. My call is now extended beyond associate ministry to preach and teach and lead a congregation through transitions and, with God’s good help, new growth. My time with you has been the absolute best and the wonderful memories I carry from our time together will most definitely see me through the difficult days of transition ahead.
It is my prayer that each of you rest in full confidence that God has exciting things in store for the ministries at First Christian Church in Paris. Change is hard, but we must remember to place our trust in the God of Jesus Christ. What we receive will be so much better than anything we could ever imagine possible. I pray that you learn to trust that even in the midst of sadness, God will put beautiful moments of love and grace in your path and God’s great plan for all of us will be revealed in time.
Thank you so very much for allowing me to be your pastor all these wonderful years!