A few days ago, I found a bookmark that I received on a retreat that I attended several years ago. These words from Deuteronomy are printed on the front: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified. For the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.” I hold these words in my heart as I write to you this morning.
If you have heard me preach, you know that a common theme for me is staying open to the movement of God’s Spirit in our lives. I am big on saying that we need to listen to God and follow where God leads us. I fully believe that message, and I desire to be faithful to what I preach. Last October, I began to feel the movement of God’s Spirit within me. Over and over again during our 11:00 worship services, I would notice that God was nudging me to pay attention. To be in the moment. Usually when the nudges came, Rick or Adam was speaking words about taking leaps of faith or trusting God in times when we are moving into the unknown. The nudges happened over and over again from October through the middle of January, and I decided not to speak to another person about what was happening. I needed to be sure that God was the One nudging.
The night before the Refresh Women’s Retreat in January, I received a phone call from our District Superintendent Gray Southern. Gray and the Bishop and other cabinet members had been meeting and praying, and my name had come up. He had one question for me. “Are you open to being moved to another church this year?” As I heard his question, I literally felt like I needed to go down on my knees. I knew that this is what God had been preparing me to answer. Gray gave me over a week to consider this prospect, so I prayed each day and spent one day in silence so that I could discern the will of God. After receiving my answer multiple times…God is patient with me…I conveyed the message to Gray that I believed that God was at work in this situation and that it was my desire to follow God.
So…I will be moving at the end of June to another church where I will serve as their Senior Pastor. I will not know the exact location until the first part of April. In all honesty, I am reeling from this news because when God moves I am often speechless. I will be forever grateful for the ways that you have loved and supported me and helped me to grow into the pastor that I am today. I will miss you like crazy. I look forward to sharing this part of my journey with you in the days to come. I love you all more than you will ever know.
As the pages of life turn, often we find ourselves in a new chapter. We celebrate with LuAnn this new chapter in her life. While we know her physical presence will be tremendously missed, LuAnn has given us twelve wonderful years of faithful pastoral leadership. As we move through the Easter season into the days of her transition we will gather as the church to offer our thanksgiving for LuAnn’s gifts and graces in ministry.
We Love you LuAnn,