A Heartfelt Farewell

Call to worship (here)

 Well, today really is the day, the day I say goodbye to being your minister. I will be in town for the next week, until June 30th, but I am taking vacation time so that we can pack up the house. So today is really it, the end of the ministry we have shared together for the last seven years.

I made this short so I could hopefully get through it, but we will see how that goes.

After we do the litany later in the service, I will no longer be the minister of this church. It doesn’t mean that I will never see any of you again, but if we do see each other, it will be in a very different relationship. Good professional boundaries mean that while I will, of course, respond to any requests for information or advice from the ministers that will follow me, I will not be available to any of you for anything that concerns this congregation. Similarly, I will not be available to any of you for pastoral care. This is standard practice when a minister leaves, and it is a good thing.   It creates the necessary space that will allow you to develop a good relationship with your incoming minister.

Have I said enough times that I am really thrilled that the Reverend Shelley Paige will be here in August as your interim minister? I so love and respect Shelly. We went to seminary together. She is warm and smart, and I can’t think of a better person with whom to leave you. I have faith in her and I have faith in you.

This congregation will prosper and continue to do many fabulous things. I am counting on it! It would not be nice to disappoint your mother!

 

Our last hymn this morning was one we sang at my first service here. It has really been a dance we have done together. I now want to read the poem I wrote back in 2007, when I first learned I was coming to you. Catherine Zublin had it printed inside this stole, which she also made.

 

As the mountains rise

Above the salt flats

In majesty and wonder

We will listen

For the quiet call,

The still small voice,

A guide with measured steps,

Scouting out the trail.

 

And we may be amazed

By the thunders’ clap

The chance encounter,

A wild and crazy shout,

Rhythms that will make us dance.

And within it all

The precious beat of human hearts,

Of hopes and fears and dreams,

Open now in anticipation.

Live with patience

Grace, I must believe,

Awaits us all.

And then, in the spring of 2008, when you decided to call me as your settled minister, I wrote the following:

 

The mountains called to me

Their golden glow a beacon,

Shining, leading here.

Tears and laughter both

Mingled with the rain and snow,

Loving hearts and holding hands,

Good work to do.

This salty soil holds the miracle of life.

A garden, precious and rare,

Flourishes and grows.

 

Let us now dance together,

For a harvest time is here

And more are yet to come.

 

And come they did, those harvest times. We have done so much good work together. This church has changed in the time we have been together and so has this town. Those two things are not unrelated. It has always been a partnership and a shared ministry. We have learned from each other and we have all grown as a result.

 

We have lived through troubles and we have held each other’s hands for courage. We have stood together in graveyards, saying goodbye, and we have blessed the new babies that were born, saying hello.

Those memories will last, those tender connections of the heart are one of the greatest blessings of ministry, giving and receiving. Saying hello, and saying goodbye, is part of it all.

Another poem which expresses some what ministry has felt like to me here:

 

A traveler can get weary

The mountains are so high

A boulder comes from nowhere

To roll onto the path

 

You push it back

It comes again

Is there a way around?

 

Your compass has a crack

You did not see before

Supplies are getting low

 

Rest awhile; take in the view

Rejoice in all you’ve seen

You are only human and

The desert takes its toll

 

Let the fog wash over you

Listen to your dreams

Hear the sweet birds singing

Their melody’s for you.

 

Share your water

Share your food

With dear souls you will meet

 

Hold their hands

Wipe their tears

Find courage in their prayers

 

A traveler does get weary

Before the journey’s done

The ground beneath us all

Is what will help us stand.

 

God, give us the strength

To travel on again

Guide our feet

Lead us to our home.

 

And as a message for your future, this poem:

 

If God could weep

For all the pain

That in this world abides

The tears would flow like rivers

The rain would never stop

Ocean waves like thunder

Would reach the mountain tops

If God could shout

A message out

For all the world to hear

The roar of words

Would echo round

This green and spinning sphere

If God could act

We’d surely have

Peace in all the lands

Food for all the hungry souls

And care for all the sick

If God is sleeping

I’d like to know

How to wake the Holy up

Most likely God is asking

That same question

Of every one of us.

 

This church is awake. You have the spirit and you have the will. Blessing to all of you. I love you. May you fare well as I bid you a heartfelt farewell. Namaste.

A Litany of Farewell

 Catherine Zublin: In the Unitarian Universalist tradition of religious freedom, the authority and privilege of calling a minister rests solely and completely with the members of the local congregation. Likewise, a Unitarian Universalist minister freely chooses how to respond to that call. Minster and congregation enter a sacred covenant, a committed promise to be in relationship in a particular way. As the chair of the search committee that brought you here, I affirm that our relationship has been one where that promise was fulfilled.

Bill Hackett: As the board president when you first arrived, my goal was to help create an environment in which the minister could succeed. This has been a successful ministry for you and for us.

Laura Anderson: As the second of the three board presidents who served with you, I affirm that as you have dwelt among us as our minister, you have lived and spoken the truth in love as best as you were able. You have been our minister in times of sorrow and of celebration. You have helped us live our values as we worked for justice and as we gathered in religious community.

The Reverend Theresa Novak: I began serving as your minister in September of 2007. Over the years, I have loved you both as individuals and as a church community. You have inspired me and you have reaffirmed my faith each and every day. We have been together in sorrow and in celebration. We have made this town and the world a better place. I am very proud and very humbled to have served as your minister.

Doris Lang: As the President of the Board of Trustees of this congregation, it is now my duty to relieve you of your role as minister of this congregation. Will the members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden please now rise in body and/or in spirit? Please join me in reading the words printed in your order of service.

Members of Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden: We chose you, Reverend Theresa, to be our Minister. You have served us well, and you have been a strong advocate for love and for justice. It is now time to let you go. We are grateful for the years we have spent with you, for the gifts and the wisdom you have brought to us. We wish you well, as we release you from your calling as the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden.

The Reverend Theresa Jane Novak: I chose you, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden, to be my church. We have shared tender times as well as exciting ones. They have been some of the very best years of my life. It is now time to let you go. I am grateful for the years we have spent together and for all you have given me. I wish you well, as you release me from my calling as the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden.

Doris Lang: Although you will no longer be our minister, the love that is between us will not go away. I offer you now this small vial of our sacred water, symbol of our gathered community. Please take it with you, knowing that our prayers and love will follow you for the rest of your days.

The Reverend Theresa Novak: Thank you. Please know that my prayers and love will be with all of you for the rest of my days.

 

 

 

 

 

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