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To the people called United Methodist of the Mountain Sky Conference,
The end of June is always so bittersweet in the United Methodist calendar. Pastors and congregations have said goodbye to make way for new relationships, new possibilities, new ways of being in the world as disciples of Jesus Christ. Additionally, we are saying goodbye to several of our conference staff members. As you have seen in the conference newsletters recently, we have said goodbye to Andy Millman, Laurie Day, Youngsook Kang, Amy Gearhart, Margaret Gillikin, and saying goodbye to Cassy Chamberlin as they seek to live into their call to ministry in different settings.
Itineration and transition is part of our Methodist heritage. From the early circuit riders to today, we have had to say many goodbyes to faithful leaders in our area. Nevertheless, transitions are difficult because we’ve come to know these pastors and staff members, witnessed their unique gifts, heard their stories, and have benefitted from the passion and energy they have brought to serving all of God’s people in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and our church in Idaho.
In this time of transition, we are tempted to worry about the future, what the loss of beloved staff and pastors means for how we do ministry in the Mountain Sky Conference, or about who we will be filling in for these individuals once they have left. Although these are valid questions, scripture reminds us that there will be many goodbyes in our lives, and that transition and change are a common part of life for the Church. The Apostle Paul was famous for ending each of his letters with a special goodbye blessing. In his mission work, Paul had to say many farewells to people he had grown to care for, as he set off to spread the good news to a new community. His final blessings were a way of honoring the people who he had come to know and blessing them in their future ministry. One of my favorites of these blessings comes from 2 Corinthians 13:13, which says “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
As we get ready to face a new season, I invite you to join me in blessing Andy, Laurie, Margaret, Youngsook, Cassy, Amy and all the pastors who are moving, as they seek to live into their call by holding them in our hearts, honoring the time we had together, and praying for God’s presence in their journeys ahead.