On the evening of Sunday, October 10, the parish held a farewell dinner for me and my family. It was an elegant affair – delicious catered food, cheerful decorations, a Hawaiian dance by Dee, lots of helpers, a big crowd, and a fun and funny program led by our irrepressible Bishop’s Warden, Peter Stockwell.
We were overwhelmed by the love and support shown to us at the dinner. So many people got up to express their feelings about the last 13 years that we have spent together that it was hard to take it all in. I felt so incredibly grateful to be loved by this congregation that I have loved.
It’s not easy saying goodbye. Katy and I told people that we’re not moving out of the area. We’ll undoubtedly see people from time to time, and at some point we’ll be back at St. Antony’s. But the fact is that we won’t see each other every week like we have for the last 13 years. A priest is a symbol of safety, steadiness, and assurance. If you know the priest will be at the altar every Sunday, you know that God is there for you.
I won’t be at the altar next Sunday, or the Sunday after that. Fortunately, Fr. Craig will be there, and the worship of the church will continue as always. It will be different, and require some adjustment, but maybe this is a good thing. Maybe we need to be shaken up every so often so we can find God in new ways.
I know that for Katy and me it will be a huge change to our routines. On Sundays I won’t be getting up at 5:30 am to practice my sermon and run to church for the 8:00 service. We’ll be able to sit together in church for the first time in 26 years. Things will be different, and it will take some adjustment.
I feel like I’m leaving a healthy congregation with good leadership. I’m happy that Fr. Craig is going to be the interim because I know he’ll be a good priest and a good leader. And I trust the Holy Spirit to bring a new vicar to St. Antony’s who will be a shepherd and guide for the future. All shall be well.