Dear Elkton Presbyterian Church, Thank you for the lovely reception that you gave for me on May 19. I am still overwhelmed by your kindness – the tributes and the gift of communion chalice and plate were beautiful. Randall and I were and remain very moved by it all. I am grateful to you for this opportunity to serve and for your love, and I am grateful for Randall and for his love and support over the many years we have been together, especially the last four years when he really had to keep the house and our affairs in order, while I was in seminary. I realized when we left church that day, that I forgot to thank him, I was so emotional from it all. Thank you Randall. I love you so. (Oh, and by the way, I think we have a new kitchen recruit to help out with Roast Beef Dinner and Tricky Tray! Ya’ll know I love church dinners, so we plan to be there!)
Elkton Presbyterian family, you took a very green, sometimes naïve, yet eager seminarian – me, under your care and gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to live into my pastoral abilities. The visits, conversations, fellowship with church members, the prayer group sessions, occasional preaching, working with Pastor John Paderson, leading the youth group, were all very important aspects of my faith journey and ministry training. I learned from and loved it all, and the opportunities helped me find my own style of serving and preaching, with Christ’s leading of course. As I mentioned during my brief remarks, when I first set foot in Elkton Presbyterian Church in the spring of 2016, I felt as if I had come ‘home,’ and for me, that is a wonderful feeling. I think I shall always feel that way when I am there. (A special thank you to Frank Chapman who saw promise!) And Dick Baldwin’s phone call over Thanksgiving 2017, asking me to consider serving in this role, was like a lifeline to me and an answer to prayer, as I was in one of what I call my “wilderness seasons,” when I felt God was silent in my life. I have since to learn to trust God with those seasons, because good things come from them!
There are poignant and hilarious stories to share about my 18-month service to the church, one of which attests to my being directionally challenged. (Youth, that is one reason we didn’t play Hide and Go Seek when I led youth group! I wouldn’t be able to find myself if I got lost, much less you!) That is all I will say 😉 You sweet friends know the adventures we have had over the last year and a half – some full of smiles, some full of joy, and some full of tears, as we told loved ones goodbye and sang them into Jesus’s arms and heart. This summer, I will try to write reflections, now that I am not studying 25 hours a week! One thing about ministry is that while it is Lord-led and Christ-inspired, it is also very human! It is sweet, painful, stretching, challenging, funny and full of so much love.
Each one of you and this experience taught me well. There is still much for me to learn. Continue to pray for me as I prepare for my ordination exams. I will pray for you, and know that you have a special place in my heart. Continue to be the amazing church you are, Christ-centered, loving each other as you do, and serving the greater community. EPC is an amazing congregation, doing wonderful things. Thank you again for everything. Love,