This week I informed my congregation that I intend to retire effective July 1, 2021. I am about to step into the next chapter of my life. I’m still working on wrapping my head around it, but I’m very excited. Here is the letter I sent to my congregation . . .
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I write to share an important decision. After a great deal of prayer and discernment, I have made the decision that it is time for me to retire. I turn 65 at the end of June and it is my intention to conclude my ministry at Plymouth effective July 1.
From the very beginning it was clear that Plymouth was a good fit for me, and after five and a half years I still believe that is true. I am grateful for the opportunity to be your pastor, and for the care and support you have offered me over the years. Even during this past year, when so much about church life was thrown into upheaval, we have managed to make the best of a challenging situation. My time with you has been rich and meaningful for me. And now there are other paths which are calling me.
I was ordained almost 40 years ago. When all is said and done it will have been 14,464 days since that hot August afternoon in 1981 in a tiny country church in Wilmer, Texas when a small group of folks gathered around me, laid hands on me, and launched me into the mystery of ordained ministry. During the time between then and now I have served nine congregations in two denominations across five states, preached more than 1,600 sermons, and served as counselor or director at more than 30 church camps. I’ve lost track of the number of weddings and funerals, and I have no idea how much time was spent in hospital corridors waiting to visit parishioners. Among the countless remarkable experiences along the way, I had the high honor of preaching at two ordination services and officiating at weddings for three daughters. The truth is that it has been an amazing journey and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, but I’m tired. It’s time to step away from the pulpit and give more attention to some other parts of my life. I have a wonderful partner who lives in New Mexico, and daughters and grandchildren scattered around the country. And there are beautiful places just waiting to be explored and photographed. It is time for the next chapter of my life to begin.
I am committed to being fully engaged as your pastor for the next several months, including doing what I can to make sure that things continue to run smoothly after I leave. The Council will receive guidance and support from our Conference Minister in the process of planning for what comes next. And I am grateful that we will be back together in person for Easter. I look forward to being with you in the coming weeks as we share together in worship and ministry.