A Year and a Lifetime

Dear Friends, we’ve made it: April 1 marks an entire calendar year that we’ve spent together now as a community ~ and what a year it was! I know the transition to a new pastor has been exciting for many, challenging for some, even frustrating. We have had to get to know each other’s traditions and expectations, and the process hasn’t always been smooth; but I hope that for you, as for me, it has been a window into God’s grace. This is, of course, not only our first year together, but my first year as a settled solo pastor of an established congregation. It has been a year of ups and downs, of trials I felt unequal to but somehow surpassed; and of joys I had not anticipated, both at big events and in the smallest of conversations. Seminary can never prepare a person for that first year in ministry; just as no congregation is really “taught” how to take a new pastor through the ropes. Yet, somehow, we’ve all managed; and it feels like a day worth celebrating. In this year that has irrevocably changed my life, here are a few blessings for which I’d like to take a moment to give thanks:

  • Your forgiveness and patience when I inadvertently left out or adapted traditions you cherish;
  • Your enthusiasm for new ideas (or going back to an old way once forgotten);
  •   Millie’s jars of jam when we first arrived, and everyone who helped us move to our new place;
  • The lovely celebration and music for my installation, with an elegant dinner; I felt so welcomed;
  • The willingness of the youth to take me in, trust me, and share ASP with me;
  •  Thanksgiving with the Hentz family, and every single Fellowship Meal;
  • The wild and unexpected journey of the Lazarus at the Gate Bible Study;
  • And the unfailing patience of my husband Adam (and even the failing patience of my son Henry) who have allowed me the grace to work long hours, talk through hard decisions, neglect housework and cooking, and at times my sanity, until I have found myself with two feet firmly planted on the ground, a sense of peace for the year to come, and a balance between self, family, and church as I continue forward in this unhoped-for privilege of being called pastor. I pray there will be many years to come.

In peace, Pastor Rachael