The following letter was sent to members of Roswell Presbyterian Church this morning…
Last night, with regret, I informed our Session of my decision to resign as Pastor of the Roswell Presbyterian Church effective May 1, 2015.
Needless to say, this is not a decision which has come easily, but my physical health leaves me with little choice. As you know, I have been unable to work since my hospitalization of February 1. My new chemotherapy treatment has left me more fatigued and nauseous than before, and I end up dealing with flu-like symptoms of chills, etc., for several days after each chemo treatment. In addition, the increased pleural effusion (build up of fluid around my lungs) often leaves me short of breath and with a constant cough.
All this is to say, I don’t see my physical condition improving to the level that would allow me to function as the leader I want to be, or as the leader the church needs me to be.
For over twenty years it has been my honor to serve as your Pastor, and over that time I have been blessed with the joy of watching God at work in so many, many ways. You have honored me by allowing me to celebrate with you at weddings; to rejoice with you at baptisms; and to grieve with you at funerals. Together we have laughed, and we have cried.
On a personal note, RPC has been a wonderful home for my family. It is hard to believe that Ashley was in the eighth grade and Daniel in the fifth grade when we moved here, and through the years you have continued to be a supportive and encouraging presence in each of our lives.
Particularly in these past years as we have battled cancer, your love and support and prayers have meant more to our family than you can ever know. Ellie and I cannot thank you enough.
Throughout the years, your faithfulness has continued to humble me. Because of your commitment, we have built buildings; we have launched new mission endeavors; we have watched our ministry to children and young people mushroom; we have cared for the needs of each other; and, most of all, we have offered dynamic worship to Almighty God. It has been a joy to share with you in all of this amazing ministry.
I have had the pleasure of serving as a Presbyterian Pastor for almost 35 years, and it is not easy for me to step away from this work, but there is no doubt that the time is right. It is the right time for me personally, and it is the right time for the church.
For me personally, thanks to the incredible benefits the church offers to its staff, the next step means that I will be going on disability through the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church(USA). For now, I won’t be doing any more preaching or teaching, and after May 1, I will not be attending worship services or programs of RPC in order to allow new leadership to be established in my place. Twenty years ago I was so grateful for the gift Cy Mallard gave me to allow me to establish myself as the new Pastor, and I look forward to offering that gift to the next person who will serve as the new Pastor of RPC.
Being on disability doesn’t mean that I am debilitated, however, so don’t be surprised when we run into each other around town! After I get some strength back you may even see me walking (slowly!) around the path at Roswell Rec!
It’s the right time for me personally to step aside, but it is also the right time for the church. I am leaving with the peace of mind that RPC continues to be one of the strongest, healthiest, most vital congregations in the country. We have strong and committed lay leaders, and we have an amazingly gifted staff to carry on the ministry.
Bill Powell, the chair of our Session Personnel Committee, will be in touch with you soon about the next steps for the congregation, which will include calling an interim Pastor and soon electing a Pastoral Nominating Committee to begin the search for the next full time Pastor. In the meantime, our staff Senior Leadership Team of Emily Wright, Lyndsay Slocum, and Nancy Turner will oversee the day to day ministry of the congregation.
I’ll be keeping you posted on the state of my health, and I hope to be around at various times during the month of April. We’ll have an opportunity to say good bye, but for now, please accept my thank you for the privilege God has given me to serve as your Pastor.
Roswell Presbyterian Church is an amazing congregation, and Ellie and I are so grateful for the opportunity we have had to be part of this wonderful church family . We look forward to hearing about even greater things from RPC in the years to come!