“Good Bye and God Bless”
I love the song, “I Can Only Imagine” because it reminds me that heaven will be more wonderful than anything we could ever imagine on earth. But I could never have imagined that the close of my 21 years in ministry would be anything like we are experiencing. I have grown to love you all, even those who have not always agreed with me regarding the direction of the church, because I know you are all good people with hearts filled with love for your church and each other—you are family. Mary Kay and I have loved being part of your family. I imagined this to be a time of celebration and many, many hugs goodbye. We have so much to celebrate because we have accomplished so much these past five years. Our church has “earned” the reputation as “the church that cares” because it has been “the church that helps” those in need. This is nothing new, and was a part of this church’s DNA long before I arrived, but it was limited to a few doing much for the many. You had conducted quarterly Food Fairs, but they had stopped. You had supported Mission Devine with money and volunteers. Your leadership and participation at the Hospice Store were outstanding, and your Shoebox ministry was a wonderful blessing to children on both sides of our southern border. It would be easy to say that you were doing much, and probably more than most churches. But you were hungry to do even more. From the moment we arrived, people kept coming to me with ideas and desires to do more.
Since that time so much has changed and you have so much to celebrate. Food Fairs not only resumed, but became monthly rather than quarterly. You agreed to host and support the Salvation Army moving its local operations into our church office, increasing the number of people being helped in our community from 5 or 6 families a year to well over a hundred. You greatly supported our new Wesley Nurse, which has blessed our entire community in so many ways they are too numerous to list. You have expanded your support of the Shoebox ministry, and your donations to local charities such as HANK and the Devine Food Pantry. You have also launched new ministries, such as our Mother’s Day Out program, reaching out in support of young families with children in our community. You expanded the use of our facilities to more local groups, sponsoring or hosting various exercise programs, Grief Share, and other classes and events to support the health of our community. You even reached out beyond the walls of the church, conducting Las Posadas Christmas services, a gigantic community Easter Egg Hunt, and a 4th of July Concert in the City Park. All of these events have shown the community the love of Christ, shinning through our members. You also supported changes in our worship, which have attracted more families with children to our church, and supported upgrading our facilities to better accommodate these young families and children.
You cannot even imagine how proud I am of all that you have accomplished, and how blessed Mary Kay and I have been to be a part of it. Sometimes God saves the best for last, perhaps just like heaven will be the last place we will live forever. But God doesn’t promise that life on earth will always be sunny, and indeed, we are living in some dark days now. Because our hope is in God, we know that the sun will shine again, and all the ministries now temporarily suspended, will shine forth again. Our Bishop says we should not plan to “resume” but to “relaunch” when it is safe. Know that our church, even in these dark days, has never stopped doing ministry. Our church office has never closed, and we have been continuously helping families in need. I know that you and your church will always be here for the community. God will bless you every time you answer “yes” to His call to do more. I am thankful that God is sending you a great new pastor with many gifts to help you continue to grow in Christ and service to others.
Even though we may lack the opportunity to say goodbye in the ways we had hoped, you will always be a part of us, and we will miss you deeply. We will continue to trust in God’s grace, and we know that God will be with us all even more. Good bye and God bless you!
Your fellow servant in Christ,