January 20, 2021

Dear Ghent United Methodist Church & Preschool,

During worship this past Sunday, January 17th, I shared publicly that I will be going on personal leave effective July 1st, 2021 after six years of pastoral ministry to the Ghent community. Therefore, Ghent UMC will be appointed a new pastor at that time.

When someone shares they are going on personal leave, it sounds rather ambiguous. In the United Methodist denomination, “personal leave” has a rather broad umbrella. In my case, I have suffered from migraines induced by neck and back pain for much of my adult life. Stress exacerbates this. After twelve years of pastoral ministry fighting to keep my body functioning in order to continue to do the work to which I feel called, I feel weary in mind, body, and spirit. I have put my full effort into attempting to recover while continuing to serve as your pastor. In recent months, I have come to the prayerful realization that serving as your pastor beyond the month of June would not be responsible or faithful leadership.

Rest is a very biblical principle. At the creation of the world, God instituted a day of rest. It is commanded that fields have a period of rest to lay fallow that they might retain moisture and nutrients. Even Jesus would distance himself from the crowds to rest and pray. We are all fully aware of how draining enduring this pandemic can be. I hope and pray that you are being intentional in finding time to rest during this time of uncertainty and upheaval.

The United Methodist Church has a tried and true process for the movement of pastors. Rather than each individual church hiring or calling a new pastor, our denomination’s pastors are appointed by our resident bishop and his or her district superintendents with the valuable input of churches expecting a change in pastoral leadership. Melanie Cramer, as our Staff-Parish Relations Committee lead, will facilitate this process on our behalf. If you have ideas to share as to the spiritual gifts and talents needed of your pastor in order to lead you into the next chapter God has in store for you, please contact Melanie via phone (757)472-6483 or email thosecramers@icloud.com.

Since the earliest days of the Methodist movement, the Christ-centered people of the church have served as the backbone of our ministry to the least, the last, and the lost. Each of you and your families are in my prayers during this time of transition. My last Sunday “in the pulpit” will be June 6th. In the meantime, we still have work to do together.

In Christ,

Pastor Melody
Ghent Church | Website