Until We Meet Again

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 worship together.

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,

Rev. Mark

Feeding the Community, Body and Soul