January 14, 2019
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul reflects on the impermanence of the pastoral vocation. Referring to another apostle, Paul asks rhetorically, "What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth." According to Paul, a pastor plants and cultivates without necessarily enjoying the fruit of those labors. More significantly, a true pastor is called to acknowledge that he will eventually leave, and that his most important role is to entrust the community he has loved and served to God.
With Paul's reflections on the nature of the pastoral vocation in mind, I want to inform the Redeemer community that I have received and accepted a call to serve as the rector of the Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene, Texas. Some of you may remember that Sarah Beth and I spent three years in Abilene before we were called to The Redeemer. For many reasons, we believe that it is the right place to be for the next phase of our ministry. We will remain in Pennsylvania through Easter Sunday.
As I have reflected on my time at the Church of the Redeemer, I am mindful of and grateful for the people who have been part of my ministry here. While there have been numerous parishioners who have helped me grow as a priest and a leader in the church, I want to make special mention of the members of the Pastoral Care Committee, the NEW Committee, the Adult Formation Committee, and the Men's Brown Bag Bible Study. In many ways, the work of those groups shaped my time at Redeemer, and I want to express my deep appreciation to their leaders and members, past and present. I am also especially grateful to have had the opportunity to work on the staff at The Redeemer. I can think of no other parish in the Episcopal Church with a staff that is more talented, dedicated, and selfless. I can only hope that I will be part of such a capable team in my future endeavors. Finally, I want to say what a joy it has been to work for Peter Vanderveen. Peter is a priest and a leader of great vision, integrity, and faith. I have learned much from him, and I will miss his wisdom and good humor. The people of the Church of the Redeemer are blessed to have him as their rector.
One of The Redeemer's great strengths is its sense of history: its acknowledgment that we are part of something that was here before us and will be here after we are gone. I am grateful that I have been a small part of Redeemer's story, and it is with hope and confidence that I pray the seeds that have been planted during my time here will bear fruit for the good of this community and the whole Church.
It has been an honor and a joy to serve among you for the last five years. Thank you for sharing your lives with me. May God bless, preserve, and keep you, now and always.