As I write this, my last Agape column as your pastor, I
reflect on our past eight years together. Since starting my appointment to
NOUMC on July 1, 2011, I have preached 420 sermons. I have performed twelve
weddings, forty funerals, and eleven baptisms. It has been a sincere privilege
and high honor to officiate at weddings and funerals; and there is no greater
calling for a clergy person than to serve the sacraments of the church to the
people of God.
Still, the past eight years have been about a lot more than
just the official duties of my ordination. You are not only my parishioners,
you are my friends. Together we have worked on mission trips, youth outings,
and event planning. We have shared in four full-length Disciple Classes and six
shorter Bible Studies. We have struggled through hard times and celebrated good
times; and I will cherish those times as much as I cherish the memories of our
Retirement is a real mix of joy and sadness. I’m looking
forward to what the future holds, but I will miss my friends. Still, I am very
pleased that Rev. Hoyte Wilhelm will be taking my place. I have every
confidence that he will lead this church forward to a really bright future; and
for that I am very grateful.
As I head into retirement I celebrate that, in The United
Methodist Church, clergy are ordained for life. (That’s not true in all
denominations.) I will always be able to lead worship, perform weddings and
funerals, and most of all, celebrate sacraments; and I have been assured by
both my District Superintendent and my fellow clergy that I will have plenty of
opportunities to do so.
I also look forward to doing some of the things I have not
had time to do while serving a church full-time. As a trained piano technician,
I’m going to spend more time working on pianos and playing pianos. I’m hoping
to spend more time doing some genealogy research. I want to do some writing and
possibly more teaching. I still have a dream of maybe someday building a
harpsichord; and, of course, Ginny and I both really love to travel. I have no
doubt that my retirement time will be filled with joyful activities.
Some of you know that I have been studying German at the
German Cultural Center in Olmsted Township. (I’ve been studying German for
three reasons: travel; family heritage and genealogical research; and the joy
of actually understanding classical vocal music in its original language.)
Those of you who know even just a little German know that the German words for
Good-Bye are Auf Wiedersehen. But “technically” Auf Wiedersehen doesn’t mean
Good-Bye. It literally means “on again seeing” or “until we see [each other]
again.” As I am continuing to live in the area and continuing to maintain my
United Methodist Connection, I am sure we will continue to see each other.
And so, as July 1 approaches, I simply say Danke schön
(thank you) for eight wonderful years and Auf Wiedersehen (until we meet
again). Know that I will always keep NOUMC and all my parishioners/friends in
my prayers, as I wish you every success and happiness.
Grace and peace always,