I am excited to be appointed as Senior Pastor here at Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation for the twenty-second year – and excited that Jim Shirbroun has been appointed here for his nineteenth year. But now I need to tell you that this will be my last year. I plan to retire from active ministry following Annual Conference next year, at the end of June, 2016.
This is a decision that Susan and I have been thinking for some time. Susan retired from teaching in May of this year. Next year, I will observe the fortieth anniversary of my ordination; that’s a nice, round number. We have two wonderful sons and two extraordinary grandchildren and we want to spend more time with all of them. We think our granddaughter in Kansas City especially needs us – and so we’re also sharing this morning that we have bought a house in Liberty, Missouri and will move there next summer.
I’m a little nervous telling you all of this information this soon – essentially making myself your lame duck pastor for a full year. I had not intended to share any of this until this fall sometime. But there are some big decisions being made right now by the Staff-Parish Relations Committee and the Board of Trustees and the Finance Committee and other groups. And there will be some significant changes in the congregation and the campus ministry because of those decisions. I know that it will be beneficial for church groups to have this information sooner rather than later, and so that’s why I’m telling you today.
I have to say that no time would ever feel quite like the “right” time to leave Collegiate/Wesley. I love being here, as your pastor. You have welcomed us and allowed us to make this our church home – and my place of work – for more than half of my career and half of our married lives. It is going to be incredibly difficult to leave and to say goodbye. But we have a full year ahead of us. That is a good amount of time to center ourselves and gather our wits and make plans and say “farewell.” It is a going to be a year of change and transition, as the Staff-Parish Relations Committee’s current plan is to move from having three ordained pastors on staff to having two. Jim Shirbroun and I will be here together for the first year of that.
Anticipating a question I’m sure that you have, let me say that Jim Shirbroun’s future beyond this appointment year is not yet determined. As usual – as always – the Bishop and cabinet appoint pastors one-year-at-a-time and you all and even Jim will have to wait until sometime next spring to know any further out than that. But I have informed the Bishop through the District Superintendent that I intend this appointment year to be my last.
I ask for your prayers and support through this coming year for me, and for my family, and for yourselves and this church community.