Dear Friends in Christ and Seffner Church Family,
As I sit at my desk this morning writing this message for the June “Encourager,” it hit me that this will be the last time I will write a pastor’s message for our newsletter. I’m reminded that the writer of Ecclesiastes begins the third chapter with these words: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” He then goes on for seven more verses, offering examples of the various seasons of life, along with their opposite. For example: “a time to be born and a time to die,” and so on. It’s a wonderful way of being reminded of the seasons that we all experience at some time or another as we make the journey of life.
Henri Nouwen, priest and author, wrote these words: “Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.”
I write to you at this time in my journey to tell you that my season as pastor of First United Methodist Church of Seffner will end on June 30th. (I made this announcement at the close of worship on Sunday, May 6th.) And, beginning July 1st I will begin a new season of ministry as the part-time pastor of the Cochranton United Methodist Church in Cochranton, Pennsylvania. (Because vacation plans have been made several months ago, my last Sunday at Seffner Church will be June 24th.)
Although this is not where any of us thought we would be two and one half years ago when I came to Seffner Church January 1, 2016, as interim pastor and subsequently appointed as pastor of the church, it is where we find ourselves at this point in time. I never gave thought to leaving Seffner Church; there is no reason for me to leave this wonderfully welcoming, dedicated church. I have loved my time as pastor of this church and working together with God’s provision and help to get where we are today as his church in this community. We have laughed together and we have cried together. We have worked side by side and we have cared for each other. We have loved each other and we have offered the love of Christ to the community in amazing ways.
Having said all of this, for the past few months (since going through my heart ablations) it has been my heart’s desire and prayer to return home to Pennsylvania to be closer to those who are family to me. By God’s grace my prayer was answered when a former District Superintendent from the Erie-Meadville District called to offer me the Cochranton Church appointment. After prayerful consideration and a take-in interview that occurred when I was vacationing in Erie in April, I accepted the appointment. Now I’m preparing to end my season of ministry at Seffner Church and preparing to begin a new season of ministry back in Pennsylvania.
Be assured that I will remain your pastor through June 24th (Pastor Brian Brink will be on call for pastoral care emergencies through June 30th) and will continue to be faithful to the office of pastor, doing all that is expected of me as the pastor of Seffner Church. Through the coming weeks I covet your prayers as I transition to this new season of ministry. Please also pray for Seffner Church now facing another transition in pastoral leadership and for our District Superintendent and our church’s SPRC as together they move through the process of discernment for new pastoral leadership. And, please add to your prayers the Cochranton Church as it prepares to transition from full-time to part-time pastoral leadership.
Yes, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven,” and the writer of Ecclesiastes goes on to say that, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” I believe that our redemptive God will make something beautiful from this season of change for us all. I pray that God will bless us as we move through this season of change and the seasons of our lives with the assurance that “…in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
PS….Throughout these past two and one half years I want to thank you for all the various gifts of love that you’ve given me at various times of the year like Pastor Appreciation Month, my birthday, Christmas, Easter, and “just because” gifts….including ALL kinds of Oreos!!! Most of all….thank you for your love!
With God’s blessings and peace,