Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Next Chapter

On Sunday morning I informed the Bridge St. congregation of my intention to retire as of June 30th, 2017. I began the conversation with our Personnel Team in June of this year, had further discussions, and chose to let the congregation know early so the sometimes ponderous search process could get underway. This is actually earlier than I had intended when accepting a call here, but It just seems right.

I had my first interview to become a candidate for ordained ministry when I was nineteen years old and I am grateful that the Rev. Dr. Stanley Osborne and the committee from Oshawa Presbytery took me seriously, and honoured my developing sense of God's call,  even though I was essentially a kid. Dr. Osborne was principal of the Ontario Ladies College at that time, and in a lovely coincidence our daughter Jocelyn was married in the chapel a year ago. She and Jeff chose the venue not knowing that I was interviewed there decades before.

The church no longer interviews possible candidates before they have begun post-secondary education, yet here I am 42 years later, having completed six years of university, including my Masters of Divinity, before embarking on what will be 37 consecutive years of pastoral ministry in six pastoral charges. Hmm...

As I spoke Sunday, Ruth, my partner in life and ministry, listened from the congregation. Remarkably, we began our relationship with we were nineteen-year-olds and were married at twenty-one. Not only has ministry been the trajectory of my entire adult life, she has been my loving, encouraging, wise and patient companion through all those years. We have lived in Newfoundland, Northern Ontario, Nova Scotia, as well as Southern Ontario, and Ruth has always been willing to pick up and go on to the next challenge. She is a remarkable person.

Ruth and our adult children Isaac, and Jocelyn, and Emily, have been wonderfully supportive in this decision. They have seen that while I love ministry in many respects, and consider serving these congregations in Christ's name an honour, the demands have taken a toll. I am physically healthy, yet emotionally and spiritually weary, so it is time.

I promised myself that after being absent far too often from family life when our children were young, I would make the right decisions about being present to grandchildren when the time came. Because Ruth and I are both Preacher's Kids we've had a lifetime of weekend commitments when others were enjoying something as simple as consecutive days off and three-day weekends supposedly mandated by law. Congregations really need to figure this out in the 21st century!

That said, I really appreciate the folk of the Bridge St. congregation and what I feel is our vital and meaningful Christian presence in this community. I commented to Ruth this morning that this is a congregation with a heart in the heart of the city, and our meal ministries and refugee sponsorships are amongst the highlights of my ministry.

What will I do next? Gulp...I'm not sure. I commented Sunday that this feels like jumping off a cliff, and I'm trusting that I'm wearing a wing suit to soar into new and creative opportunities. I want to reconnect with my contemplative self, expand my passion for the outdoors and creation, and rediscover the dormant aspects of my creative spirit. "Splat!" is not an option.  

Christ has been my companion through these years, and I'm confidant that this will not end.


Dawn Vaneyk said...

Come to the retirement planning seminar at Villa Loyola next Tuesday and Wednesday. Loads of people would love to see you as we ponder the R word. Good for you, for knowing when it's time! DAwn

roger said...

Congratulations on 37 years of Ministry! That is an incredible career, and you have touched many lives - probably more than you know.

I had figured this type of blog would be coming sometime soon - you're no spring chicken, David!

I'm sure you will be busy in retirement. You could always write a book about life as a Minister. Or how about entering politics? There's always bungee jumping. I don't see you sitting around all day watching Oprah reruns.

Judy said...

you have made a wise decision if you know you are emotionally tired .... we will miss you (but you can always come and volunteer in the food program, and with the refugee committee) I thought a 34 year teaching career was pretty impressive (and it was ) but 37 years takes the cake ! And your comments about Ruth are wonderful - as she is !

David Mundy said...

I know that both the company and the location would be excellent Dawn, but alas, the distance. There are a great many of our vintage in ministry who are pondering "the end" and new beginnings, I have discovered. There were approximately 35 eager first-year students at Emmanuel College in 1977, which is hard to fathom now. The majority were in their mid-twenties, so are in a similar situation.

Spring chicken I ain't Roger, and bungee jumping is not in my future. Thanks to you and to Judy for good thoughts. Oprah would be impressed.