Sunday, March 20, 2011


I shared the news with my congregation this morning, so I'll share it with the blogosphere now. I'll be leaving Bethlehem United Methodist Church in June.

A few people have expressed surprise because the rebuilding isn't yet complete. It's true that the physical construction won't be complete for about another year, but the church is about to start a new chapter in it's life. The past two years have been about mourning, regrouping, visioning, and planning. The groundbreaking (which will be in a few weeks, pending an affirmative vote at next week's charge conference) will mark the end of that chapter and the beginning of the nesting chapter of their story.

After a whole lot of prayer, contemplation, and conversations with people I trust, I became convinced that the best way for the church to leave this chapter behind and start a new one was with a new pastor, and that the energy and excitement that a pastoral change brings will provide the right momentum to carry them into the new building.

I have mixed emotions about leaving, of course. There are many people I will miss, and my ego makes me want very badly to be the person at the front and center when they dedicate the new building. But rarely does any change in life come painlessly, and I have peace that this is the right thing.

One of the unique things about our United Methodist system is that we are appointed by the Bishop to our areas of ministry, and there is a period of time where appointments are "projected" where we can't really tell anyone because the appointment picture for the whole conference isn't yet complete. So I know where I've been appointed for the coming year, but I can't share that just yet! I'll announce it as soon as I'm able.

But for now there is still work to do. Next week Bethlehem will have a Charge Conference for the final vote on the building, and if the consensus that seems to be developing translates into the necessary votes, we will break ground on the new building very soon. As hard as much of this experience has been, I will look back fondly on my time as pastor of Bethlehem.

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