Last week I said my "Word from Pastor Karen" was probably my last one, but I was mistaken. This morning I read the sermon Dr. Dorothee Benz preached yesterday at St. John's UMC in Austin, TX, on the first anniversary of their becoming a reconciling congregation, and I want all of you to have the opportunity to read it too. Benz says it got a standing ovation and lots of "amens" and brought people to tears. (It had the same effect on me in my dining room.) It is posted with our other sermon manuscripts and videos on our website. You can also find it at this link:
I posted the manuscript from my sermon yesterday, as well, but if you only have time to read one, read Benz's. You can find mine at this link:
And in this extra-bonus "Word," I'll take another moment of your time to again say “thank you.” It meant so much to me to see so many of you yesterday, along with friends from the community and the LOFT and AMWA (on the very busy day before Ramadan!). There were balloons and flowers and ice cream and gluten-free cake! But more important, there were your beautiful faces, with smiles and some tears, and words of grace and encouragement.
For those of you who were not there, here is the "Order of Farewell" that we used yesterday.
An Order of Farewell to a Pastor
Karen: The time has come for us to say goodbye, and Godspeed;
to release each other into God’s care and guidance for the future.
I thank you, members, staff, and friends
of Memorial United Methodist Church,
for the love and support you have shown me
while I have ministered among you these last three years.
I am grateful for the ways in which you have accepted my leadership.
I ask forgiveness for the mistakes I have made.
As I leave, I carry you with me in my heart,
along with all I have learned here.
All: We receive your thankfulness,
offer our forgiveness,
and accept that you now leave to minister
at the Rowayton United Methodist Church.
We are grateful for your time among us.
We ask forgiveness for our mistakes.
Your influence on our faith and our faithfulness
will continue beyond your departure.
Karen: I accept your thanks and your forgiveness,
and I forgive you.
I trust that our comings and our goings are in God’s hands.
I release you from turning to me
and depending on me as your pastor.
I encourage your continuing ministry here,
and I will pray for you and for your new pastor, Siobhan.
Let us pray.
All: Eternal God, whose steadfast love is from everlasting to everlasting,
we give you thanks for our cherished memories
and commend one another into your care as we move in new directions.
Keep us forever united in your love, through the power of your Spirit. Amen.