Final Words

Well, I can’t believe it, but this is my last pastor’s column to our congregation.
 
We have had a wonderful journey together for these last 14 ½ years. I have loved being your pastor, and I consider each of you my friend and partner in ministry. It has been such a privilege to be a part of your lives and to be invited into the best and most challenging times of your lives.
 
Truly it is hard for me to wrap my head around not being the pastor of First Presbyterian in Lexington. It has become so much a part of my identity, and I have so enjoyed traveling with you as we have grown in our faith and worked beside each other sharing Christ’s ministry.
 
I have complete trust in what God is doing calling me and this congregation to something new, but at the same time, there is grief that goes along with this new chapter in our lives. It is a loss for both of us – me leaving a people I deeply care about and you losing a pastor you have loved. It is important to acknowledge the grief so that you can be ready to embrace the new thing that God is going to do with you. Of course, part of the challenge of acknowledging the grief at this particular moment in time is that we can’t say our good byes in person. We will remedy this as soon as it is safe to do so with a celebration planned by the transition team. In the mean time, hold on to the blessing of the memories of our time together.
 
One of the difficult aspects of leaving a pastoral relationship is that I am no longer in the role of pastor. This means that I must back out of pastoral activities. I will not be able to visit you in the hospital, provide pastoral care, lead funerals, give my advice on church matters, and other pastoral things. This will be hard to get used to for you and me. Please know that it is not personal. Not only is this required by the Presbytery, it is very important for the health of the church for me to have no pastoral influence or input so that your new transitional pastor and eventual installed pastor can develop pastoral relationships with you.
 
At the same time, when life returns to normal, and you see me out in Lexington, you don’t have to avoid me or my family. You can say hi, ask how we are doing, or give us a hug! We just have to be intentional to not talk about what is going on at the church.
 
Once again let me say how blessed I have been to be here with you. Thank you for allowing me to be your pastor for all these years. I will be praying for you and trusting God to continue to do great things with you.
 
Grace and peace to you.
Your friend and (for the last time) pastor,
Pastor Lee