Dear friends -
As we head toward the finish line of our ministry together, we have done a lot of reflecting and thanksgiving, some crying, some laughing, and lots of hugging. While it is bittersweet, this is important time for us to spend together.
I've fielded a number of questions from you about how all this will work - can I come back (nope), can we stay in touch (sort of, eventually), are we still around? (not at River Glen after May 15, but we will be in our beloved Aurora neighborhood as Tom has a great job in Chicago), as well as other questions and concerns.
The Presbytery of Chicago gives us some excellent and helpful guidelines in the Covenant of Closure for how to do this well, especially so that you can have a meaningful relationship with your interim and future pastors. While the Covenant of Closure does not affect or require termination of friendships with individuals within the congregation, I will adhere to fully support the future pastoral leadership of River Glen by refraining from any pastoral involvement or leadership at River Glen. This includes not intervening, supporting, or giving advice concerning any church matters as well as gently refusing requests to officiate in special events in the lives of River Glen members including weddings, funerals, baptisms, and worship leadership - a requirement of pastors leaving a congregation. While I will always be praying for you, I will gently decline offering you pastoral care or sustaining any other attachments based on pastor/congregation member relations.
For those who like the full documentation, you can read the Presbytery of Chicago Covenant of Closure here.
I appreciate your understanding that I will need space after leaving River Glen to disconnect completely from the congregation while I listen for where God may be leading me. I will continue holding you in prayer every day (as I have for almost six years - even from the very beginning of the search process) while you step into this interim time. While we do not know the way ahead of either of our paths, as Thomas Merton prays, we do know that God will lead each of us by the right paths and will always be our present and loving guide.
See you Sunday,