Eleven years ago, following the leading of the Holy Spirit, I asked the Bishop of the Baltimore-Washington Conference, to send me from the church where I had been the associate pastor for four years to a new appointment. In 2006, Bishop John Schol appointed me here, to what was then called Woodside United Methodist Church. That was before we were a Cooperative Parish with Marvin Memorial, before we were a Reconciling church, officially welcoming all, before we were Silver Spring UMC, feeding all God’s people, body, mind and spirit.
Over the past decade, we have grown together, you all and me. I look out at you all and see many people who have come here in the last 10 years, many couples that have married, many children born, including two of my three kids. There are also those who have died or have moved or have gone to other churches.
This is a very different church now. We now have a new mission statement and a welcoming statement; a balanced budget and money in the bank for capital improvements; a full Sunday school and an active youth ministry; we have strong lay leadership and an incredibly gifted and dedicated staff.
I give thanks for all that God has done in and through this church, and for the ways in which I have grown and learned as your pastor. And now, again following the leading of the Holy Spirit, I have again asked the Bishop to send me forth to the next, new challenge. And so, as of the end of June, I will be stepping down as your pastor, and Marcus, Nora, Graham, Evie and I will embark on a new adventure.
I have asked Bishop LaTrelle Easterling for up to one year of voluntary leave of absence to discern where God would use me next. I ask for your prayers in this time of transition, and as I continue to discern where God is calling me.
In the next few weeks, the Bishop will appoint a new pastor to Silver Spring UMC, to help lead you all on the next stage of your journey as a church. Whoever comes here will be very fortunate to get to serve in such a vibrant and vital church, and I know that the Bishop and Cabinet are praying and working to find the very best pastor to lead you. I also ask that you hold them in your prayers, for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide them.
And I am praying for all of you, and for our leaders here. I am grateful to the Administrative Board and the staff for their support and encouragement, and I know they are going to help make this a smooth transition.
I look forward to continuing to be your pastor for the next three months, and helping to prepare you to receive your next pastoral leader. Saying farewell isn’t easy, but we will have time to celebrate together all that God has done, is doing and will do in the future.
Thank you for your love and prayers.