From Pastor Danny . . .
As I begin to write this note to you, I am very much aware that my time as your pastor is very nearly over. What began in the summer of 2013 will officially end on July 1, 2017 and Jennifer Pick will officially become your new and next pastor. My prayer is that Rev. Pick will be the pastor that moves and motivates this church and congregation to new heights of love, grace, and ministry in the Mexia community.
In reflecting back and pondering on where we have been these four years, there are some things I want to share with you. First, I want to express my deep gratitude for how you have expressed your deep kindness and appreciation in the past few weeks. The Retirement Reception that you held in our honor will forever be a highlight in our lives. Gretchen and I could not have had a better “gift” than to have the many people from here and all the previous appointments come and express their appreciation. To know that many of these people drove great distances to attend this event was most moving to us. It was truly a very special time for us. Thank you.
Second, as we leave in the role as “pastor,” know that we are not leaving you forever. We will continue to live on our place west of the city and continue to shop and be involved in the community. There will be a point in the future, at least one year from now, when we will worship with you again. The delay in coming to worship with you is out of love for you and the desire for you to grow with your new pastor. Additionally, I am supposed to be appointed to a small part-time church not far from here in September, so this will limit our worship participation with you as well. Just know you will see us from time to time as we shop in Mexia.
Third, I want to express my appreciation and gratitude for you as a congregation in your willingness to see the need for change over the past four years. In these four years, you as a congregation, whether you knew it or not, made changes in your committee structure by moving to the single board model. You made changes in how you do your financial accounting and reporting. You made changes in how the Endowment Fund is calculated to provide useable funds. You moved to a place of better financial stability by making lots of little changes in the budget process. And perhaps the best change, you have become much more aware of the need to reach out to the community around you and you are seeking to do it.
Four, as I reflect on these past four years, I am aware that each of us is now different. I am older and moving into a retirement area that will be new and challenging. As a church and congregation, you have lost some really key members that now live with the Saints or have been impacted by health issues that now require nursing home living, It has been hard to see the pews become vacant where these traditionally sat. At the same time, I am aware that each generation in the church experiences the same thing. There are many Saints that have gone on before us and many Saints that will follow. It is a component of our faith and our trust that we will be joined again. So keep that faith and keep that trust, for this is a God thing that each of us is experiencing!
And fifth, let me leave you with a word of hope. My leaving as your pastor is not the end of the world (Not that any of you were thinking of it that way.), but the beginning of a new opportunity. Are you aware that in the history of this church, it has had fifty-seven pastors and seven circuit-riders since 1876? As each pastor came and then left, a ministry ended and a ministry began. With each change, the church remained and ministry continued. This is an interesting process if you think about it, for it is founded in scripture. In the Old Testament in the Book of Kings, the prophet Elijah, knowing his time was ending, passed the mantle on to the younger prophet, Elisha. Elisha continued with the spirit of Elijah resting upon him. At Annual Conference, we enact this tradition every year with each retiring class and new class of deacons and elders. This same element is happening in this church. Every pastor before me has left something for the next pastor and my leaving will be the same for Rev. Pick. Rev. Pick will take some of the good that was done, correct some of the bad, and with both carve out her ministry with you at FUMC - Mexia. I see hope written all over this picture! I pray you do as well.
And finally, let my final words to you be that of a Franciscan Blessing and a passage of scripture:
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart. Amen.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. Amen.
May God bless you with tears so shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. Amen.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen.
And the Blessing of God, who Creates, Redeems and Sanctifies, be upon you and all you love and pray for this day, and forever more. Amen.
Numbers 6: 24-26 CEB:
The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift his face to you and grant you peace.
Being blessed more than I deserve,