When Moses and the Israelites were moving from Egypt to the Promised Land– Canaan they were guided by the Lord in several ways. Obviously they had Moses. He was their human leader. They also had elders. Seventy men were chosen to help lead and govern. They also had some obvious signs of God’s leading. Specifically there was the pillar of cloud. In the daytime it looked like a cloud, and at night it looked like fire. (Numbers 9. 15-23). When the cloud started moving the people moved too. When it stopped for days, or even years they stayed put. Eventually Moses grew old, and died before crossing over into the Promised Land.
In our lives, we don’t have the advantage of the cloud, or of a Moses who showed that he was the leader by miraculous signs. We do however have the Holy Spirit. We do have the Bible. We do have brothers and sisters in our faith who can help by praying for us, and by giving us wise counsel.
As you probably know by now, I have made the decision to retire. April 1, 1995, was the date when I began my ministry here in Rochester, so that the date is appropriate for ending. Thus, I plan to be retired on April 1, 2022. Twenty-seven years is a long time. What a blessing it has been to be part of such an amazing spiritual family. It is with mixed feelings that I am making this transition. There is guilt. It feels like I’m abandoning my post. I feel like I’m letting lots of people down. There is some grief. The same feelings that I had when losing loved ones, are here again. I don’t plan to never see you again, or that I will not care what happens. There is deep love in my heart for my you—spiritual family. There are also some feelings of anticipation. There are new adventures to pursue. There are children, and grandchildren, and a mom. There are lots of people that I need to make time for while I can. There are lots of feelings, that are mixed. But, I have come to the assurance that the time has come for me to make the change. Age, and the need for using my remaining years differently are part of my decision. I have sought some wise counsel. It is my belief that the church needs a new leader. Change can be difficult, but it is also good and necessary at times.
So as I write this article, may you know the deep love I have in my heart for you. May you also know how important it is to me that you continue in your faith and commitment to Jesus, and to this church. My role has not been to save you– but to point you to the Savior. Jesus must be Lord of all.
As well, I believe that God has good things ahead for this church. It has been here over 175 years. Through wars, through depressions, through tornados, through heartaches, and changes. God still has a plan to seek and save lost people from this community.
On March 5th the church will hold a “Pastoral Transition Workshop.” It will be held at the church from 10 am – 2 pm. It will be led by our friend Bruce Cochran, from American Baptist Churches of Indiana and Kentucky. It is open to anyone wanting to attend. Finding the next pastor will need to be done with prayer, and wisdom, and God’s guidance. So, the congregation needs to be a part of this.
At the workshop, Bruce will outline some of the steps that will need to be taken. He will give some guidance to the Deaconate as they choose 7 Pulpit committee members. He will encourage the church to think of where God is leading, not just of finding a replacement. I hope you will participate in the workshop, and in other opportunities to be part of the new days ahead. They are exciting! God is up to something good.
I am confident that the same God who brought me and my family to this church 27 years ago, is more than able to do even greater things. Saying good-byes are difficult for all of us. I am not abandoning you, but my role is changing. There is a new day dawning for all of us. Let us look forward to what God has in store for us.