This morning I shared with the congregation at the Chebeague UM Church that June 24th will be my last Sunday as pastor of the church. The conference will appoint another minister to follow me. It is a decision that came after months of searching my soul, listening to GodŐs call on my life, and recognizing that I not only need to respond to GodŐs call but that I want to respond to GodŐs call.
For a couple of years, I have felt a tug at my heart when contemplating the idea of reaching out to folks who may consider themselves spiritual but who have no inclination toward joining worship in a traditional church. I havenŐt made a move toward seeking ministry in this area, in part because I love serving this church and I love being a part of this island community and I love you, my friends. My time here has been a gift from God. I have grown in my relationship with Christ, I have grown as a pastor, and I have grown as a human being. And you have all been an important part of that growth, of my journey.
Last June (2011), I was approached by our District New Church Start Team and asked if I would consider starting a new church - a church that is intended to reach out to folks who are searching to fill the void in their heart but who resist organized religion. My heart jumped at the thought. Since June, I have searched my heart deeply and I have decided I must respond to JesusŐ call to step out of the boat and into the unknown. I move forward with some fear and trembling. I donŐt know what the future will look like. I donŐt know what the future will hold. What I do know is that if I am faithful to the call of God, if I follow Jesus with all of my heart and soul and strength, then the Holy Spirit will use the gifts I have been given to reach people for Christ.
As of July 1, I will no longer be the island pastor. I am confident that the minister who follows me will continue to extend GodŐs love and care to each of you. Your relationship together will grow and you will soon recognize that GodŐs timing is always the right timing.
I realize that there has been conversation about a team from Chebeague making their way on a mission trip to Guatemala and I want to assure you that I remain committed to that mission and plan to take as many of you to Guatemala as want to go! Be prepared thoughÉ.. mission to Guatemala may change your life forever. The Spirit moves freely and finds a way to nestle deep within the hearts of those who go. I look forward to being in mission together for the love of God.
I also want to assure each of you that the Island Health Center will not be affected by my decision to leave ministry on the island. I love each of you and am deeply committed to providing adequate health care to you, the islanders. Deirdre will continue as the island provider and our office will continue to see patients as usual. You are important to us.
I will forever be grateful for the love and the friendship you have extended to Jim and I. You are special people and this island is a special place that will forever be in our hearts.
Forever, your sister in Christ,