Thursday, March 28, 2013

Goodbye Letter to WPC

 Querido WPC,

        It is with a joyful and at the same time sorrowful heart that I write to announce my family and I are going to be leaving this beloved congregation at the end of May - May 19, Pentecost Sunday, being our last Sunday. On the first of June, we will move to Ghost Ranch to coordinate the camp's summer college staff. In early August we will move to Athens, Georgia, where Trasie will begin the Ph.D. Program of Social Work at the University of Georgia — a real conflict of interest since we are both Georgia Tech grads!
        When we came to this congregation in January of 2007, we were in our early thirties, we had no children, and we were filled with optimism about all God had in store for us in Santa Fe with WPC. Now we are too quickly approaching 40, we have two precious girls--Ruby Gene and Zia, and we have come to dearly treasure the relationships we have formed and marvel in the ways we have been able to serve God as part of this community. Since Ruby Gene’s birth, we have wrestled with the tension between being faithful to our calling to this place and in this community, and our desire for our children to be closer to their grandparents. We have prayed for God to reveal to us the right time to resolve this tension. When we recently got news of Trasie’s acceptance into the program with an assistantship, meaning her tuition is waived and she is given a monthly stipend, we sensed this is what God is calling us to do. In order to support Trasie and the girls, I will spend a year as the “Catcher” (as a baseball catcher who cares for home base), meaning I will cook, clean, and coordinate family life! We are humbled and grateful for this next step, and our families and we are delighted.
     But, our delight does not come without heavy hearts as we begin to say goodbye (for “realz” this time). You mean more to us than any words can convey. You have shaped and transformed our lives in deeply meaningful ways. You have helped us raise our children and nurtured and cared for us in difficult times. You have entrusted your lives to me as your pastor; accepted my shortcomings and come to endear (some of) my quirks; patiently given me the freedom to try new ideas and graciously expressed times when those ideas weren't really working. You have challenged me to grow spiritually, to be an agent of reconciliation, and to fight for justice in this world so that we all might walk the path of sanctification. You, by God's grace, have molded me into a more Christian man as I have shared with you deep expressions of humility, compassion, patience, and agape love. You are my first parish; the painting we have of the church by Noe Cervantes will always hang proudly on the wall of our home, as we carry you lovingly in our hearts for all of our days.
     Reception of this news will vary from deep sadness, to regret, to possible relief. No matter where you are on that spectrum, I invite you in these remaining days to celebrate the life we have had together; let us be present to and with one another; may we work toward healing and wholeness where needed for the sake of Christ’s body, the church. I ask you for your prayers for my family and me as we go through this transition, and we commit to praying for you in your transition. Additionally, I want to put a plug in for the opportunity the church has to explore how God might be calling you to something new. “Behold,” God says, “I am doing something new!” What is this new thing? It is wonderful timing that the Session has already taken steps to potentially seek answers by setting up the visioning gatherings led by church consultant the Rev. George Packard called “God's Future Promise.” These gatherings will begin on Sundays April 21 and 28 with worship at 9:30 a.m. I encourage everyone who is part of WPC in small and big ways to share all hopes and dreams for WPC for the short and long-term.
     Goodbyes are always hard for me. Given the uniqueness and sacredness of the pastoral relationship, this will be especially difficult. Still, I look forward to upcoming days filled with laughter, tears, and heartfelt expressions. We give thanks to God, nuestro compañero, who accompanies us through all that life brings. Qué la gracia del Señor JesuCristo, el amor de Dios, y la comunión del Espíritu Santo nos acompañen ahora y para siempre. Amén.
      Con Amor y Gratitud,  

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