Claiming the future God holds for you
Dear friends in Christ Jesus:
All around us are observable signs of change. We see them and experience them in the landscape, the weather in our gardens and our activities. This is also a time change in the church. This is especially true for those pastors and their families and congregations where there will be a pastoral change in a few weeks. Change can without a doubt be anxiety producing and stressful. To that end I want to commend all of those who have worked in good faith to make this an effective season of change for in pastoral appointments. The list is long. But many people have labored for things to go well. I am grateful.
One of the most profound changes in life is retirement. We have this year a fairly good size class of clergy who are retiring from full time itinerant ministry. Our hats are off to them for running the race well. And we pray that the next season of life will be filled with meaning and joy. I cannot help but note that retirements are a key driver in appointment changes.
Retirement has come close to my office this year. Mrs. Linda Smith who serves as the Executive Secretary to the bishop will be retiring on June 30 after 14 years in that role. Before serving in the Bishop’s office she was on the staff of the Conference Council on Ministries in the former Central Illinois Conference. So after 18 years of ministry in the conference and Episcopal Office she is looking forward to tending life in a different way. She has run her race well and served with diligence, dignity and grace. I am grateful and I know I speak for all whose lives she has touched through her work. Elsewhere in this issue of the Current you will be able to read more about this important transition.
I started this piece by talking a bit about change. I want to assure you that I affirm that change for the sake of change is foolhardy at best. But I also affirm that change is real and often necessary. So I invite you to experience change (whether you sought it or it sought you) – in your life, ministry, relationships – as an opportunity to claim the future that God holds before you. Harry Emerson Fosdick said ‘Christians are supposed not merely to endure change, nor even to profit by it, but to cause it”. Let’s embrace the changes before us as blessed opportunity and every now and again even summon up the courage to initiate change.