The word has started getting around, but I want to be sure you are all aware that I recently informed our Personnel Committee of my plans to retire at the end of May.
It was May, 1989, and I had been on the job for a couple of weeks when my good friend, John Miller, advised me to view my tenure here as a marathon, not a sprint; excellent advice I did not always heed. A marathon is 26.2 miles. This May marks my 27th anniversary as a staff member, so it looks like I will blow right past the marathon finish line. I love this family of faith. As a minister, I cannot imagine a better place in which to serve. Through the years, regardless of the circumstances, I have felt your consistent support, respect, affection and grace. Words are inadequate to express my feelings of appreciation for the privilege of being a member of this church staff.
As the retirement date approaches, I am finding it impossible to resist the inclination to reminisce. There have been so many remarkable stories and incredibly meaningful experiences over the years. We have laughed, played, rejoiced, and grieved together. We have worshiped together, prayed for each other, celebrated the many good times, and cared for each other in and through some mighty difficult and painful times. I look back at our many experiences together with an overwhelming and indescribable sense of gratitude. I count it all as GIFT.
There is not time or space in this letter to express my feelings of respect and appreciation for each one of my staff colleagues. Suffice it to say, with Jim as our leader, pastor and friend, our church staff is in excellent shape—the best ever—and is providing outstanding leadership in every ministry area. The sense of joy, enthusiasm, energy, commitment, and the overall spirit of our church family is at a remarkably high level. Thanks be to God!
Permit me to say a more personal word about Kendra Plating, our new Minister of Pastoral Care. Kendra is a natural; a gifted and effective pastoral care professional. Our church family and community will be blessed by her ministry for many years. (And remember Kendra, it is a marathon; not a sprint.)
Paula joins me in thanking you for the great privilege of serving alongside you. In more ways than we can possibly express, this family of faith has enriched our lives and the lives of our two sons, David and Hanes. Retirement is a significant personal and professional milestone; unquestionably, it is a major life transition. But this is not a goodbye. I will turn in my keys on May 31, but Paula and I look forward to active participation in the life of our church family for many years.
Blessings, and many thanks,