I am writing this week's Pastor's Message with great joy and deep gratitude to share with you the incredible news that on Monday evening I was recommended by the Board of Ordained Ministry to be ordained as an Elder in Full-Connection in the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. I cannot thank you enough, good people of Trinity, for the many ways you have supported and encouraged me in my calling over these past four and a half years - a significant portion of my journey to ordination that began ten years ago!
I know that this news coming on the heels of the recent announcement of my selection as a reserve Navy Chaplain is bound to raise the question, "What happens next?" Well, the truth is that it remains in God's hands, where it has always been. However, my ordination on June 9th at this year's Annual Conference will create an opportunity for me to go beyond part-time, reserve service and return to full-time, active duty in the Navy, which my family and I have discerned to be the direction God is leading us. There are many details that must fall into place, but it seems very likely that I could be leaving Trinity for the Navy in either August of this year or February next year. Until that happens, whenever it might be, I will continue to joyfully serve as one of your pastors and will cherish each and every moment.
Steve, Catherine, Lenora, and I have been prayerfully discussing all this for some time now, and we have also had conversations with our District Superintendent. Regardless of the timing of my departure, and for the sake of the many transitions we are experiencing at Trinity, Lenora will continue her appointment at Trinity until next summer (June 2019 - when we hope she, too, will be ordained and then be in a position to join me wherever I am stationed). While that will certainly mean some separation for our family, I am excited for Lenora's opportunity to continue offering her gifts for ministry with all of you and for you to continue supporting and encouraging her in all the ways you have done so for me.
I know this is a lot to absorb in an e-mail, and can only imagine that you might have some questions, so please do not hesitate to ask. In the meantime, I humbly ask for your prayers for my family and me as all this continues to unfold. And, while it may feel bittersweet, I hope you will celebrate with us all that God has done and is doing in our lives right now. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
On another note, I wanted to pass along to you the details for Vince Perry's memorial service, which were provided to us yesterday. The service will be Friday at 11:00 at Greater Bethel AME Church, 701 SE 43rd St, Gainesville, FL 32641. Please continue to hold Joyce and Vince's family in prayer...our staff and congregation, too. Vince will be deeply missed.
Grace and peace,