Dear Friends, as you can imagine, I am filled with many emotions right now as I prepare to retire from IPC. I realize that while it is perfectly natural to think of a sermon or a baptism or pastoral visit as being my “last one” at IPC, this is not the best way to retire. Instead, I have been focusing on the experiences and images that will be the lasting ones in my heart and mind.
I wish I knew how many miles I had walked down hospital corridors during the thousands of hospital visits I made. Many of these visits remain etched in my memory, but more than the individual visits, the privilege of entering your hospital rooms, standing at your bedside and holding your hands while we prayed is what will remain with me forever.
I will never forget the joy of working with some of the most creative members of IPC and in the community as the labyrinth and prayer garden moved from the desire of one loving, generous couple for the church to have a beautiful place to pray to the lovely reality that it is. Little did we imagine then what a gift it would be to our neighborhood during a pandemic. Many long-time residents as well as passers-by have found refuge and peace there.
So many of my lasting memories are of worship services. Watching the candlelight slowly fill the sanctuary on Christmas Eve as the acolytes pass the light of Christ among you. 68 baptisms, 48 weddings and more memorial services than I can count. Watching the new Dobson organ being constructed and listening with awe as its sound filled the newly renovated sanctuary. The laying on of hands during the ordination of Elders and Deacons. The privilege of offering the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving and the Words of Institution during the Eucharist.
The joy of hearing every anthem I have heard the choir sing. The special peace of the choral evensong services and the sacred sound of the IPC Camerata. The excellent work of the housekeeping and maintenance staff, many of whom are among the staff members with the longest tenure at IPC, adds to the holiness of our spiritual home.
The rest of the staff must be mentioned as well for they are among the finest people I have ever served with. Their commitment to excellence, the attention to detail, a devotion to God, a calling to use their many and varied gifts in selfless ways. Their partnership has meant more to me than I can say.
And, finally, the beauty of your faces as I looked out over the congregation on Sunday mornings and evenings. Your expectant hearts that we ministers, mere mortals, would bring to you the word of God fill us with a fear and trembling that only the Holy Spirit can vanquish. There is more that I could say, but the memories would fill more pages than I am allotted here. Let me just say that my love for you is most lasting of all.
Grace and peace,