This letter was sent to church members’ homes two weeks ago. It is shared here so that the whole church family — friends, members and visitors — might be aware of the pastoral changes here on Meetinghouse Hill.
June 27, 2012
It has been my privilege to be in ministry with you over the past 5 years. Many of you have remarked to me that it doesn’t feel possible that it has been that long – which I hope is a compliment to the ministry we’ve shared together. As you may remember, I was called to South Portland only a few months after I gradated from seminary in November of 2006. I have seen you change as much as I have changed. We have matured together and challenged each other to love more deeply and serve more boldly. There are things about our ministry together that I will always cherish, obviously including Leisurely Lectionary, Christ Kid’s Club, Beach Chair Theology and this church’s first ever Mission Trip.
I will always tell the story about the would-be traditional congregation in Maine that allowed me to throw snowballs in the sanctuary, clean up after the parade on Palm Sunday and listen to sweet jazz through Advent. In my ministry with you, I discovered a call to teach which was most unexpected. We’ve asked some tough questions together about gay marriage and mission. You’ve engaged in my “Elsa questions” and even started to talk back to me in the midst of my sermons. I am delighted to see what God is doing among you, but I am also aware of how God is moving in me.
With great sadness and deep joy, I am writing to formally resign from the position of Associate Pastor and Teacher at the First Congregational Church United Church of Christ in South Portland, Maine. I have been invited to be the sole candidate as the Senior Pastor at another congregation and hope to confirm that dream of shared ministry on July 15, 2012 with the congregation’s vote. My last Sunday here in South Portland will be August 19, 2012.
In the meantime, it’s time to begin to say goodbye. I know that the summer months take our members to the far reaches of Maine — but hope to find an opportunity to say farewell to you by phone, email, Facebook or in person. This transition will be as hard on me as it is for you. From my very first day in 2006, you’ve been asking me to stay “forever” – and it’s been tempting. There is extreme magic on this rocky coast. There are wonderful things happening in this church, but I have always known that my ministry among you wouldn’t be forever. I didn’t know how or when it would happen but I knew that one day I would be brave enough to seize the next adventure. I hope that you embrace the changes that await you with the mixture of grief and enthusiasm that I find myself in right now. May God bless this time we have shared together as we look forward to what may come with God’s love.