In the Midst of a Whirlwind: 'Thank You'

8/28/2012

Dear friends in Jesus Christ:

To say that the last 45 days have been a whirlwind is an understatement of enormous proportions. But the whirlwind of change has been filled with blessing upon blessing. Albeit in a compressed timetable there have been numerous opportunities for expressing our impact on the other.
Cynthia and I have and will continue to cherish into a long future every sign and expression of your love and appreciation. We have been blown away by letters, cards, emails, speeches, jokes, dinners, parties, worship services, gifts and more. Thank you. We have attempted to collect all of these in such a way that now and again we can refer back to them as symbolic of a time when it was “all good.” What has really been astonishing is what you have caught onto about us. Over these last several weeks you have rehearsed these things in the most tender and raucously funny ways.
To coin a phrase: “you get us.”
Thank you from the center of our hearts. We couldn’t be more delighted that you are in an all-out push to reach our goal for Imagine No Malaria. We are so honored.
It has been an awesome privilege to walk with you for four years. I have learned so much by being a servant leader in your midst. I have been stretched in ways that I needed to be. I have been pushed in directions that were good for me but most of all for the mission.
I will try to avoid circling the drain of woulda, coulda, shoulda. Now you know how deeply committed I am to reflection and self-examination. But the approach really matters. The alternative reflective approach to woulda, coulda, shoulda is the next time. It will not be possible to ever exactly replicate any moment or experience we have had. But there are certain patterns in ministry and life that recur. So for all of the next times please know that you have been and will continue to be wonderful tutors. Thank you.
I do not know if you attended, have seen or recall the wonderful service of welcome and installation that you threw in the early fall 2008. But during that service when I had the privilege of addressing you I said in part, “if you could make all the people you come in contact with feel as loved and welcomed as we feel today we would be having a completely different conversation about worship attendance and church membership.” When I arrived here I was given a copy of a document that contained the following vision statement for the IGRC: “All the physically and spiritually hungry people of our world feasting on God’s abundant grace at God’s table so that they experience God’s unconditional love for them, are formed in that love, and are sent to live and share that love with the individuals and institutions of our world.” Wow.
So while we are in the midst of a leadership change we have a clear vision of God’s yearning for the world and a compelling mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. With the vision before us and the mission driving us and the triune God at work with us our future is assured. AMEN. With much love I am,
Your servant in Jesus Christ,
Gregory Vaughn Palmer