The following is the announcement I made this morning at our worship service.
This morning, I need to share with all of you some rather big news. This is not going to be easy to say, so I’m just going to come out and say it.
Starting October 1, I am beginning a new journey in ministry. I am humbled and honored to have been asked by Bishop Trimble to coordinate the Imagine No Malaria campaign for the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. After a lot of wrestling – with God, with myself, with the larger church, with my husband… I can no longer deny that God is asking me to be a part of this exciting new project.
For the next two years, I will be traveling the state helping all of us, as United Methodists, raise $4 million dollars to help end deaths from malaria. I will be training volunteers, helping to resource fundraising events, and sharing the stories of what everyday, ordinary people are doing to help combat this global disease.
As excited I am about this big thing that God is calling me to do… I am equally heartbroken to be leaving you. In fact, one of my biggest obstacles to saying “yes” to this position is that I really do not want to leave you… the people of the First United Methodist Church of Marengo. Both you AND I have dreamed about years of ministry together in this place.
But sometimes our plans are not God’s plans.
I realized that whether I leave tomorrow or ten years from now, our work together will never be finished… there will always be more to do.
I realized that while I have walked with you this far, there are other people that God is waiting to send this direction to help you grow and thrive in ways I could never do.
And when I prayed long and hard about it, I was finally able to say yes to this position because I know… I trust… I believe with all my heart that YOU will be okay. That God will take care of you. That the larger church will take care of you and will send someone here who can take what we’ve done and help you to shine.
So I need all of you to do a couple of things for me.
1) I need you to remember that these past five years have not been about what I have done – they are about what YOU have done. You showed up. You took chances. You recommited yourselves. I helped to steer along the way, but nothing that we have accomplished together would have happened without you. You are stronger than you realize. You are more amazing than you give yourselves credit for. Whoever might stand in this pulpit is not the church…. YOU ARE. And it is up to YOU to continue this work… work that started long before I ever showed up and that will last long after the youngest of us gathered here is old.
2) I need for all of you to feel comfortable coming and talking with me over the next few weeks about whatever it is you are feeling. Whether you are angry or upset or disappointed or overjoyed… please come and talk to me. This is sudden, and surprising, and it is not easy for any of us to digest. Whatever you are feeling – it is okay.
3) I need you to work with our District Superintendent. He has promised to work his hardest to help bring a pastor to this church who is the right fit as quickly as possible. I know that there have been times in the past when you have felt like the black sheep and the neglected step child. But now you know who you are and what you are about. I believe you are a resurrected and thriving church and an example for small congregations all across Iowa. You are not going to let you stumble. And over the next month, he is going to need your help and support as he gets to know the church better in order to help bring the best possible person to be your pastor.
4) Last, I need you to pray. I need you to pray for me as I begin this crazy new adventure. I need you to pray for one another. I need you to begin praying right now for your future pastor. I need you to surround that person – whomever they might be – with love and support and grace.
In our sermon this morning, we were reminded that we are a living church – not a dead one. We are a church who has shown the fruit of mercy and compassion in our lives. God is here and will sustain you. Thank you for letting me be a part of the journey for this leg of the road.