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This last Sunday I stood before my congregation and made the announcement that I am moving and will be the pastor of another church in the New Mexico Annual Conference. Words seemed to fail me as I stood before this incredible body of believers who have loved me through wonderful times as well as very trying times. No matter how I attempt to convey my deep love for this unique group of people, I am still speechless. Anyone who knows me will testify that I am not one to be without words. As a matter of fact, I tend to use too many words.
Perhaps this difficulty with expressing the bond that is shared with my faith community stems from the reason the church exists in the first place. Jesus called us in to a deep and everlasting covenant with not only God, but with one another. This pledge that we take to become a part of the body is interwoven with the fabric of the Holy Spirit. It binds us to each other as we who are many, and with different talents, lift up one voice to our Creator. When one member leaves the body, the fabric must redirect itself, but until then there is a feeling of loss and grief. We stand in hope that God will restore the tapestry of the body and create something better, kinder, more loving than that which was before.
To all of the members of the body of First United Methodist Church of Truth or Consequences, I am reminded of Paul’s words, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Phil. 1:3 NRSV). You are a living testament to the power of God when the Holy Spirit is set loose in the church of God. When I was excited about ministry, you walked beside me and shared the many blessings that we all were given. When I struggled, you took my hand and walked through the darkness with me.
We saw our church become a vital force in our community offering a place to those of all walks of life. We became the true place to express our mission of being a people who are “Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors.” Thank you for teaching me how to be a better pastor. But most of all, thank you for teaching me how to be a better human being.