In Our Prayers This Morning

This morning, during the prayers at the First Congregational Church UCC in South Portland, Maine, I will offer a version of these words. I offer these words here to share what God is doing in my life. It’s all quite overwhelming and rather exciting.

Earlier this week, I spent an afternoon preparing a mailing that many of you have already received. It was an unexpected prayer practice to adhere each label. Reading each name, I was reminded of everything that we have shared together in the past 5 years. I was amazed to discover that there was a story with each and every name whether I offered a blessing for your child at Maine Med or I stood at the grave beside you reading words from scripture as we buried your loved one or I jumped up and down in thrilling exhilaration that you got engaged or became pregnant or finally got that job you wanted. There are some of you that have sat in my office and cried. 

There are others that have stopped me in the halls of this building in complete and total frustration about church life to which I probably said something about the joy of committee work. And even if that didn’t make you feel better, you have affirmed me as your pastor. And now, it’s time for me to become someone else’s pastor. 

As you may have read in the letter sent to your home or on Facebook this weekend, I have accepted a call to another church. As I have spent this week praying for each of you, by name, I hope that you will pray for me during this transition. 

It will be hard. Because saying goodbye is always hard. But, as I said in an email to a member of the Council this week, your future as a church is bright. You are ready in this church family to spread your wings beyond where my gifts can help. Something is happening here and you are ready for a different kind of leadership than mine. This doesn’t change anything about the time we’ve shared. It has been richly blessed. You have truly been “my own church” – but God has something else in store for both us. And the best that we can do is open our hearts to God’s guidance.

These words lead into a prayer I adapted from Women’s Uncommon Prayers. There are probably lots of more things I could say as I look forward to this new adventure in ministry, but first thing is first. Though I have announced the name of the church I hope to serve in other places, I have omitted that here. In our congregational polity, the congregation takes a vote after the candidate leads worship. That particular congregational meeting is planned for July 15 after which I will look forward to announcing my future church home. In the meantime, I covet your prayers in this exciting time of discernment for me, the church I currently serve and the church I look forward to serving.

And if you are so inclined, I will gladly adopt your friends in the Pacific Northwest as my own (though The Young Clergy Women Project has already given me several) and welcome suggestions for a road trip across the country in August.

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