A Fond Farewell



As I sit down to write this, I realize this will be my last newsletter article to you, Front Street United Methodist Church. And I wonder, how do I begin to account for the ways God has been so good to us these last six years? To be honest, I’m unsure that any language can provide the words for it. For my family and me, the days have been long at times, but the years seem to have passed by so quickly. And yet, I find myself offering nothing but the most sincere gratitude to God for the relationships we have made in our season of walking together. Each of you matters so deeply to my family and me. Front Street, you have provided us with opportunities and challenges that have taken us deeper into the mystery of God’s love in Jesus Christ. You have met us with a kind of love and acceptance that has sustained us these years and has helped to make Burlington nothing less than home.

When I think of where we started, moving into the parsonage in the heat of late June 2015 to where we are now, on the verge of June 2021, much has passed. You welcomed us like family, and walked with us through unspeakable tragedy when my mom died unexpectedly in June of 2016. You showered us with love and support that was surprising in its beauty and in its timeliness. When our family grew, you shared our joy and gifted us with the means to make Finley’s earliest days comfortable and overflowing with whatever we needed to get by. You stuck by us, and by me, even when we didn’t get it right, even when you disagreed with what I said or preached. Through it all the love of God shined through, and does still.

It has been our privilege and joy to spend these days with you, knowing, growing, and sharing Christ. I have had the honor so many times of walking with you through heartache, to bury a loved one, to sit in a hospital room or by a hospice bed, to listen to the struggles and burdens you carry inside. I have been blessed to have baptized your children, confirmed their faith, preach the Gospel, preside at Christ’s table, and walk with you into ministry in Burlington and indeed into the world. And I do not take any of it for granted. These memories, and the tokens of love you have shared with me and my family are priceless treasures that, rest assured, will carry us forward in ministry for many years.

I struggle to find the words for how we feel, but perhaps the simpler the better: we love you so much. We are filled with gratitude for this season of our lives because we have seen Jesus in the words you speak, the tears you cry, the life you share, and in your hands that serve. We could not ask for more. Brittany, Finley, and I are working through what it means very soon not to spend each day with you in ministry, but then I remember that we are all still the church of Jesus Christ, brothers and sisters who share in the same baptism. We get to carry each other forever.

And so as I write this, I hear the echo of Paul’s words in Philippians: “I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers. I am thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it’s always a prayer full of joy. I am glad because of the way you have been my partners in the ministry of the gospel from the time you first believed it until now. And I am sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus. I have good reason to think this way about all of you because I keep you in my heart. You are all my partners in God’s grace.”

Pastor Patrick
Last Published: May 25, 2021 7:49 PM
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