February 20, 2019
To: Clerk of Session
Highland Presbyterian Church 10024 Highland Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70810
Dear Session and our family at Highland,
It is with bittersweet emotions that I write this letter, formally tendering my resignation as pastor of Highland Presbyterian Church (USA), effective May 31, 2019.
When we arrived in Baton Rouge just over three years ago, we could not see the overwhelming life changes that were looming around the bend. We needed a family as we dealt with illness, loss, and new life in our midst. And Highland was the community we needed. From the very first day, you have surrounded us with love, compassion, prayer, support, and every other good thing that any person could need. You did this for the person meant to minister to you, which is even more remarkable. Brad and I will never be able to fully express our gratitude for all you have done for and been for us.
It feels as though we are leaving home this time – because it is true. My time of ministering among you has been one of my greatest blessings. We love you all immensely and will hold every one of you in prayer and in our hearts wherever we go. We will tell the Little Giants about the place of their birth, of Mardi Gras and Jambalaya, of their baptism and the family of faith that supported all of us through those difficult first few years. We will tell them with joy and quite often so that they will remember, as we do, this southern river city from which they have come.
In preparation for our departure, my last Sunday in the pulpit will be Sunday, May 5, and my final day in the office will be Wednesday, May 8. We will use the remainder of my vacation, continuing education, and sick days to take the last few weeks of May to prepare for our move to Pennsylvania. There I will become the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Hollidaysburg on June 1, 2019.
Highland does have a time of transition ahead. However, please know that you are an incredible congregation of which anyone would count themselves lucky to call family. God will go before you and behind you, above you and below you, with you and within your hearts as you walk the path ahead. Just remember that love is the point and the rest will fall into place.
Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts! Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Janie McElwee-Smith, Pastor