Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Hardest Thing in Ministry

There are many things that are hard about being a pastor. Meetings, funerals, conflicts, whatever. But I think I know the hardest, at least what has been the hardest for me so far: telling your congregation, who you love, that you've received a new appointment.

On September 1st, I will become the pastor of Franklin Lakes United Methodist Church in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, a cross-conference appointment (as opposed to a change of membership). My appointment was announced today both here at St. Paul's and in Franklin Lakes, and announcing this change was one of the harder things I've had to do in ministry (life!) so far. St. Paul's has been such a warm congregation in these last four years, and the people have been so extremely supportive during my probationary period, and so ready to share in celebration with me when I was ordained. I couldn't imagine loving a congregation like I loved the congregation I grew up in, but the people at St. Paul's became my people and my congregation.

I'm excited about my move to Franklin Lakes. Bishop Devadhar comes from my annual conference, and I was honored that he thought of me for an appointment - but also surprised! I wasn't expecting to move this year - most appointments have already been announced, and I was pretty sure that I would be here another year. Yesterday I met with folks from Franklin Lakes, and I'm excited about their sense of vision, and their willingness to try new things to be disciples and make disciples. And Franklin Lakes is about thirty minutes from Drew. I eventually hope to pursue a doctoral degree, so I'm excited about being close to Drew when that time comes. And I think that this appointment is a gift from God put right into my lap. As my mother would say: how much sense would it make to say, "No thanks, God, I don't want this gift?"

Emotionally drained, and full of hope and expectation.
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