We’ve been through a lot together: Covid on the one hand – I was here less than a year when we got into Covid – and also what I think is going to turn out to be a successful completion of our “What If?” campaign to completely eliminate our mortgage debt by our 175th anniversary next year.
We’ve tried to be there for you through the ups and downs of life. You’ve been there for us. My mother died in my first year here right before Covid. (You’ve heard me say so often that she would tell me every time she came to visit that this was the friendliest church she’d ever been in!) Both Brenda’s stepfather, and then her father, died while we’ve been here. These have been significant losses in our lives, and you were very supportive of us during each time, and we are grateful to you.
I want to emphasize again when I will be retiring: next June 30, 2024, seven plus months from now. One of the reasons this is announced seemingly kind of early is that our Bishop, Julius Trimble and our District Superintendent, Dr. Aleze Fullbright, will be working with our Leadership Team, chaired right now by Karen Decatur and to be chaired in 2024 by Pat Hulfachor, to find Southport United Methodist Church the best and most suitable pastor possible. And they will begin this process very soon -- before the end of the year.
So, we still have a lot of time, seven months, to work together, to be together, before we say our goodbyes. But that time will go fast, things will be busy, so I want to say it now, and I intend to say it often, how much we have loved being here, how much we love you, and how honored I have been to be your pastor.
Grace and Hope to you,