Monday Musings for 6.14.21
I am rapidly approaching my last day as pastor at Nampa First United Methodist Church. The closer I get, the more I realize how much I’m going to miss this. I’m going to miss you. But as I think about this, I can’t help but think of the old country western song: “How can I miss you when you won’t go away?” Not you. Me. I’m not going anywhere. I will still live right here in this small town / big city we’ve come to love, Nampa, Idaho.
This is a first for me. When it was time to leave Medford First UMC (where I was associate pastor), we moved 630 miles to Burley, Idaho. When it was time to leave Burley UMC, we moved 590 miles to Portland, Oregon. When it was time to leave Rose City Park UMC, we moved 175 miles to Bend, Oregon. And when it was time to leave Bend, we moved 300 miles to Nampa, Idaho.
Each of those were hard moves. The hardest part was leaving people we had come to know and love. But at least there was a clear break. We had moved. This time, we aren’t moving. So . . . how can you miss me when I won’t go away?
It’s probably a good idea to lay down some ground rules about my new role as a retired former pastor of your church. The main thing to remember is this: After June 30, I will no longer be your pastor. That is obvious enough, but some of the implications may not be so obvious. Here is the way it is stated in the “When Appointments Change” guide that comes from the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference:
A new pastor will find difficulty in being accepted in a church if the former pastor returns to the parish. For that reason, we do not accept invitations from laity to perform baptisms, weddings, funerals, do counseling, or perform other pastoral functions (e.g. hospital calling) in a former parish. Explaining this policy along with its rationale to your church before you leave will make things easier for everyone.
You are going to have a great future with Rob Walters as your pastor. Starting in a new church will be hard for him. It always is. Starting with a new pastor will be hard for you. It always is. The best thing you can do to help him get off to a great start is to give him every opportunity to be your pastor. My hanging around would make it too easy for you to turn to me, not to him.
And yet I am hanging around. You won’t see me at church, but you will see me around town. So what will my new role be in your life? I will still be your friend. I will no longer be your pastor. I will be cheering you and Rob on. I am so thankful for these eleven years we have shared! And I am also thankful that, for once in our lives, we can leave a church without having to leave town . . .