This is my last time writing to you. While I am filled with hope and anticipation—for Allin Church and myself—for the days and years to come, I am also feeling pretty sad. I’m sad because I love you, because I love this church, because I love the ministry we’ve been able to do together these last four years. As I’ve prepared to leave (tossing out the papers I don’t need anymore, getting things together for the person who’ll come next, clearing out the Sunday school for—praise God!—new floors to go in), I’m struck by how much I have to be grateful for.
I am so thankful for the wise and playful and brave children of this church. These kids have taught me how to pray during my time here: their thoughtfulness and their depth, the way they think of the biggest concerns and the smallest things and offer them up to God, has deepened my own knowledge of the divine.
I am grateful for the ways we have all grown in our ministry these last four years. The children and parents of the church trusted me to totally overhaul the way we do Sunday school, so that it could work better for our children (even if it looked way different from how it has in decades past). I’m grateful for the adults of this church making more space for children in our worship; I’m grateful that y’all have allowed Cheryl and I to plan and lead so many inter generational services, so that people of all ages can experience the wonder and joy of worshiping God in community. I am grateful to have gone through the process of becoming Open and Affirming with this church; seeing you all open your doors ever wider was a gift to me, and to this world.
I am grateful that you all have been a place for me to grow as a minister, to grow in my preaching, worship leadership, and administration.
Of course, there is so much more to be thankful for: for your willingness to learn alongside me, for the ways we have opened our lives up to one another, for the ways you are turning outwards to your community in Dedham and beyond, for the ways the Spirit continues to move through this church, 381 years after its founding.
I am filled with hope for this church. Here are some of my hopes for you in the days and years to come:
I hope you will continue to follow the Spirit’s leading and try new things. It takes courage to lead a service in a different way, to try a different type of programming, to connect to people who are different from one another. That courage exists here, in this church, in each one of you. I have seen it. Hold fast to that courage, and see where it takes you.
As a congregational church, all congregants—equal before God—are the ministers and leaders. I pray that you all will continue to take ownership of the ministries of this church. (The best way you can honor me as I leave, and the best way you can care for Cheryl during Gabe’s sickness, is to care for each other, and to carry on the work of this church).
I hope there continues to be time—in the Sunday school, in youth group and confirmation, in worship and adult education—for you all to play, to be creative, to see something new from each other and God. I hope each person, from the youngest to the oldest, finds in this church a place to rest and a place to be challenged.
I long for each of us to remember, to really know in our bones, that Jesus is with us, always. I long for that knowledge to give us comfort and peace and courage and strength and hope.
With you in the Love of Christ,
PS: This church has done so much to help me prepare for ordained ministry. My ordination service will be sometime in the fall, and I’ll make sure you all know about it, so that we can all celebrate together what God is doing.