I treasure St. Paul's United Methodist Church. The past 90 months have been deeply fulfilling for me. There are many things that we have accomplished together. We have learned a lot about doing ministry in the 21 Century. By means of your courage we have launched many experiments. A number of these have taken root and borne good fruit. Small groups have been birthed. Prayer emphases have been conducted. New outreaches to community and young families have been initiated. Worship services have been adapted. Many have come to fresh commitment to Christ. New people have become part of our fellowship. Financial stability has been developed. We have practiced being a family together: births, life achievements, and deaths have been shared. We have suffered and survived the worst pandemic in a century. We have laughed together. I got married.
Our journey has been challenging and rewarding all at the same time. As I leave I want to thank you all for the kind words of appreciation. They are a gift to me. also thank you for your prayers as Pam and I write together our next chapter in Tempe "full-time." I believe that Christ will open the door to very meaningful ministry. I am going to spend some important time in "intentional waiting"I am going to follow my own preaching and some by Dr. Oswalt) in a "walking backwards into the future" kind of faith where my steps might be from the Lord and not just me.
Finally, let me share some guidelines for us as I leave and you welcome our next Pastor, Jim Hawk.
Remember that the Pastor in the United Methodist Church is ordained to Word (Scripture), Order (Leadership of the Congregation), and Sacrament (faithful ministry of Baptism and Holy Communion). The Ordained Pastor is the Elder of the congregation and carries profound significance and responsibility in his leadership, according to The Book of Discipline 340c Order: (1) To be the administrative officer of the local church...
DEVOTE YOURSELF TO JESUS, TOTALLY. PRAY FOR ST PAUL'S ALWAYS. - Former Pastor, Doug
This placement of the Pastor as the Leader of the Congregation is pivotal to the congregation's order and direction. In order to affirm the Roles of Pastor going forward please remember:
I am your former Pastor. The pastoral function of leadership of the congregation will now rest solely with Pastor Hawk.
Conversations with me in the future must be about us and not about the decisions and direction of the Church and its Mission. I freely took up the leadership of St. Paul's and I freely lay it down.
Sacraments, Weddings, and Funerals are the pastoral opportunity of Pastor Hawk and succeeding Pastors. All arrangements are through them and at their leadership.
The future of St. Paul's will be lived in the midst of tremendous challenge, unlike any other in our lifetime. Recent research shows that 90% of all American Churches are at or below pre-pandemic levels. 2/3 are at 80% or less.
Never before has it been more important for ALL of a Congregation to pull in the SAME DIRECTION.
This is the worst season in which to withdraw, complain, or detract from the direction discerned by Church Leadership. The future of St. Paul's relies on everyone supporting each other:
ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL
All pastors and all Church Leadership will make mistakes. Mistakes are sometimes the exact way that the "perfect solution" is discovered. Be the one who supports the prayerful risks and stands alongside when the church disappoints as well as when our congregation is victorious.
DEVOTE YOURSELF TO JESUS, TOTALLY. PRAY FOR ST PAUL'S ALWAYS.
Give me one hundred men who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergyman or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon the earth. God does nothing but in answer to prayer. - John Wesley