I was humbled last night as I spoke to my friend who nearly died in a house fire a little over a week ago. He almost lost his wife and son in the fire. Most of their earthly possessions were destroyed. We cried, prayed and laughed. His joy was unmistakable as he spoke of how God was already using this tragedy. Sometimes I think I have something to complain about!
I certainly have nothing to complain about when it comes to this church. As we look towards an exciting new opportunity we cannot help but thank God and you for your prayers, witness, skills, talents, leadership and support. You have loved Donna and I even when I did not deserve it. You have been there for us through thick and thin. O’Fallon First UMC is an amazing church with a fantastic staff. It has been a joy to work with such a talented, loving, capable and committed servants of God. I know that your new pastors will only serve to augment the strong group of leaders you have.
I hope you will understand because we do love you and want this church to continue to be a strong, growing and vital community of faith, I will not be available to perform pastoral functions in this community once I am gone. Your new pastors deserve and need those opportunities to build the special relationships that are forged through marriages, baptisms, confirmation and the like. This does not mean we do not care. We do but, our role after May 22 will be that of friend.
There are lots of things that make OFFUMC wonderful. You work hard, you are smart and you have tremendous resources. Three things stand out to me. The first is the number and quality of leaders in this church. This is a gift. I know of no church anywhere that has such a high percentage of able and committed leaders. I hope you will see leadership as something you can build on and share with other churches. Perhaps you will someday host an annual “Leadership Conference.” Second is you are a church of committed and fruitful “Prayer Warriors.” We have seen miracle after miracle because of your prayers. Prayer will largely determine the future of this church. I pray you will help me surround Pastor Ron and Phyllis’ last weeks and your new Pastor’s first few months with prayer. We need people to commit to pray for the church and its leadership through out this time of transition and especially during worship. Please sign up and follow through on your commitment to pray. More than anything this congregation understands how to love. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is 95% love. You get that. Keep loving like you love and keep growing in Christ’s love and the best years of this church are yet to come.
Thank you so much for all the many ways you have loved us. We are not only blessed but better because we have been here. It has been a privilege and honor to have served God with you these last 11 years. Even though we have a wonderful opportunity before us it is hard to say good by to such great friends and such a great church and community. May God’s Blessings abound in your life and the life of this congregation.
Good bye and Love Always,