Dear vestry and parishioners of St. Marks:
It is with a true mix of emotions that I write to you to say that our time together is coming to a close. On Monday evening, after much prayer and discernment, I received and accepted a call to be the next rector of St. Michael’s, Barrington, IL (a suburb of Chicago). Many details are still being negotiated, but my final Sunday will be on August 21, 2016, and my final day as rector of St. Mark’s will be August 31, 2016. Per diocesan guidelines, after August 21 I will not be available for pastoral conversations or duties, and I am likely to disappear from Facebook for a while. It will become important for me to leave in order for the transition to be as smooth as possible. I know you are in good hands with your vestry, wardens, diocese, and Rev. Hannah.
The decision to be in a call process and to ultimately accept a new call was a hard one. St. Mark’s was my first parish right out of seminary, and turned out to be more wonderful than I could have ever hoped for. Indeed, instead of just my two year commitment, I have stayed here over seven years, learning from and ministering with all of you who call this church your own. You have taught me many things, challenged me in many ways, and have helped form me into the priest and person I am today. I will always look back on my time here fondly. We have invested much time making Sunday morning an amazing and warm worship experience, with the best music and liturgy we can muster. We have had two remodel projects, creating a welcoming narthex and attractive nave. We have begun feeding hungry people at Two Saints, and have trained two curates, with Rev. Hannah now joining us now to also learn and minister with you. We have been good stewards of our resources and new endowment, and have used it to further ministry here in Jonesboro. We have worshipped and prayed together. And I hope, above all others, that we have been a place that welcomes anyone who wishes to come and find God’s presence in their lives and worship.
However, all good things eventually must come to an end. I have slowly realized over the past year that I lack the vision that I once had for our future together, and it concerned me. I knew that either I would need to somehow reignite that vision, or move on letting another pick up where I have left off. To do otherwise would eventually hurt the ministry of this church. In late March, at the recommendation of a seminary friend, I submitted my name to a search process for a church near Chicago. It was a way to test the waters, and to discern what my next steps should be. As their call process unfolded, it became clear to me that I was being led in a different direction than before. While it is terribly difficult to say good bye to you and the work we have done, I am confident that this is the direction God is leading me.
For the next few weeks, I want us to focus on saying a “good” goodbye. Let us remember the good times, and forgive the trespasses of the past. Let us work toward a positive transition, and the start of a new phase of St. Mark’s story. Times of change bring not only grief, but also potential for the future and the hope of resurrection. I am also confident that the future of St. Mark’s is a bright one; I am proud of the work and ministry we have done together. I have faith that God has a new rector for you to continue the work we have begun, and to build on the past seven years. The next rector should be ecstatic and grateful to serve such a wonderful place.
Yours in Christ,
Click to Download -> Rector Letter to St Marks