Sunday, January 13, 2013

Setting Sail

I feel the winds of God today
Today my sail I lift
Though heavy oft with drenching spray
And torn with many a rift
If hope but light the water’s crest
And Christ my bark will use
’ll sail the seas at His behest
And brave another cruise
It is the wind of God that dries
My vain regretful tears
Until with braver thoughts shall rise
The purer, brighter years
If cast on shores of selfish ease
Or pleasure I should be
Lord, let me fell thy freshening breeze
And I’ll put back to sea

This morning I announced that I am leaving St. Paul's and accepting a call to Bridge St. UC in Belleville. During the week I met with key laypeople in the congregation (board chair, ministry and personnel chair) as well as staff to let them know of my decision.

By the time I leave at the end of April it will be nearly ten years that I have been pastor of this active, hard-working, vital congregation. Leave-taking will be very difficult, as I have already discovered in sharing this news.

Are we sad? Of course. We have shared so much with individuals within this faith community, the joys and the sorrows. We have worked hard together as a congregation, and while we have felt the effects of a changing culture which just doesn't value the church, we have been remarkably resilient. This is largely due to the people of St. Paul's because without the cooperation and commitment of the folk in the pews, clergy and staff can't accomplish much.

At the same time we had to consider the shape of ministry in these last years before retirement (I am 58) and what I would like to accomplish. There is also the practical reality of where we live. We have lived in the manse -- the congregation's house-- for all these years, and we need to be in our own home, from an investment standpoint but also as a place we can call our own.

Am I excited about Bridge St.? I wouldn't have accepted the call without a sense of God's possibilities within that community.  I'm nervous about a change at this stage of my career, but don't we all experience the flutter of the unknown when we set out on a new venture. I like the people I have met so far, and what they hope for in the time ahead.

There is the old saying, attributed by some to Thomas Aquinas, that ships are safest in the harbour, but ships are meant for sailing. I'm trusting that Christ will be our pilot as we leave, and will continue to be at the helm at St. Paul's.

Thanks for everything folks. And yes, I will continue with my blogs and hope you will read and comment for years to come.


IanD said...

Dad left an hour ago and told me then (which was nice, because it meant I had some help picking up my jaw.)

"Bittersweet" is the only word that fits the bill, I'd say. Congrats on such a successful ministry at St. Paul's and best of luck as you round things out and settle down in the other "B-ville" down the road!

LSDPB said...

David, you are going to be so missed.
Always enjoyed your message filled Sunday sermons and your genuine sense of caring when you were sought out. A personal thank-you for so much. Best Wishes to Ruth and you in this next journey.

Laura said...

To offer a 9 year old's perpsective..with sadness she asked her Dad on the walk home this morning..."Does this mean the end of children's time? I just love children's time." Assured that children's time is part of most every minister's Sunday morning planning, she brightened and offered this advice to the pending search committee.."Maybe they should look for someone must be hard for David to always have to crouch down to talk to us..' Ahh the wisdom and resiliance of youth...
There will be time for good byes so will just say that even in your departure you lead by example...reminding us that the easiest, most comfortable way is not our calling.....
Bowmanville's loss is Belleville's gain.....(I think I have said that before.) The ripples of your "cruise" with us will long be felt.

roger said...

David, was it something I said? Seriously, it has been wonderful getting to know you, and I always enjoyed your sermons - not to mention blogs.

I wish you and Ruth all the best in Belleville. Hmmmm, I will be moving to Cobourg in a few months....Dawn and I may have to switch to a certain Belleville church.

You will definitely be missed here!

Laurie said...

Will miss your sermons, but am glad you are continuing the blog!!! Enjoy Belleville.

Lynda said...

David, you'll be missed by all of us. Your interesting sermons and wonderful sense of humour add so much to our Sunday services! I wish you and Ruth all the best in Belleville and I'll continue to read your blog!

willowjakmom said...

The angst is in the decision-making, the hard part is over. My prayer for your family is that you can move through the next few months before your departure with the peace in knowing you made the right decision, the excitement in looking forward, and the joy in realizing how blessed you are to still have so much to offer the community of Belleville. I hope they realize how fortunate they are. You will certainly be missed, but you have left an imprint on our lives that will not be forgotten.

Amy McClelland said...

From a youth perspective I just want to say how much it has meant to me not only to have a FANTASTIC role model to look up to and admire but to have a role mode that shows so much interest, love and support to the young people at St. Paul's. Your support was a constant reminder that even though we are young we are still valued and important. Thank you for believing in us!!!

janet.rice said...

Willowjakmom has captured my thoughts exactly. And Ian is right = "bittersweet". Sometimes I hate change!!!!

dmy said...

All the best to you and Ruth. We wish you smooth sailing from Bowmanville to Belleville's harbour, they will realize very quickly that their ship has come in and was definitely worth the wait.

Kathryn Lang said...

I was so sad to get the call from my mother yesterday morning and hearing that you were leaving. You have been such a admirer of the youth and it has meant the world to not just myself but, to every single one of us. I also strive to be a great public speaker like you are week after week. Thank you so much for everything you have given me all through my teenage years and you will be greatly missed by all.


Sarah said...

Oh Wow! I missed this in the nursery yesterday (I didn't know about the tv...). Sad to see you go, even though I've only really joined in the last year. Of course I wish you all the best, what an exciting change!

mkps said...

I told some people yesterday that I think I will stop doing the 'Prayers of the People', because the last 2 times I have prayed, you made major announcements -first about your Sabbatical, and now this!
My family was also saddened by the news, especially my 9 year old daughter, who was born the night of your second interview with our search committee. Bittersweet is definitely an appropriate word.
There will be lots of time for thank you's and goodbye's but we have also so appreciated you ministry with us. It's hard to truly put it into words.

Judy said...

I am enjoying reading your blogs, Rev. David - and looking forward to having you as our lead minister at Bridge St Church in Belleville ... a warm welcome awaits you here!I hope you will be leading some discussion groups with us.