A Pastor's Farewell
The irony of a retiring pastor launching Salem First Presbyterian Church’s new “pastoral blog” is not lost on me, and yet I have been asked to share my thoughts about the church I love and have served for the past decade, a church poised to begin a new era of life and ministry. While I see my ministry as simply a piece of a larger story about a 150-year-old community of faith, I sense the past ten plus years have brought about a transformation of life and mission for this historic church.
The church I was called to serve in 2009, was a wonderful gathering of multi-generational members and attendees having recently weathered the controversial departure of its previous pastor. On the surface, the painful season of transition was over upon my arrival, but within my initial year the emotions — anger, fear, pain, and frustration, resurfaced as the Session began to implement a healthier emotional church culture and address the ministry changes required by a new missional focus. This season of honest reflection on the church-culture changes needed to develop a more welcoming and authentic community of faith and to better discern the missional needs of our city radically altered mine and the Session’s spiritual leadership role, a role- change they and I have embodied to the present.
It is another’s task to articulate all the steps and stages of the Sacred Journey to which I invited SFPC to join me on June 14, 2009, a journey that continues in dynamic and transforming ways. My role in this initial “pastor’s blog,” is to celebrate the “full-inclusion community of ordinary people experiencing and embodying God’s extraordinary love,” that is alive and well at the corner of Winter and Chemeketa Streets. This courageous congregation has invested significant effort, sweat and tears in their Sacred Journey, a church that is more open, welcoming, authentic and effective, a church that continues to evolve as a place of healing and wholeness for all of God’s children, community of faith that embodies and proclaims Christ’s mission of reconciliation.
I am extremely proud of this church, and I anticipate that its best years of transformative life and mission are ahead. I am proud to have been an “unintentional transition pastor,” who served these incredible people long enough to fall in love with them, to be changed by them and to be a better disciple of Christ because of them. So as I venture down my new path called retirement, I wish to commend SFPC as a genuine faith community that God has only begun to use in this city.