On Sunday, February 7th I announced that the Bishop was re-appointing me from my current ministry to Avenue United Methodist Church in Milford, DE beginning July 1, 2019.
(For non-United Methodist, Clergy ‘itinerate’ and are deployed through the leadership of our Bishop and cabinet (and hopefully, The Holy Spirit). I liken it to our military men and women here at Dover Air Force Base. They submit themselves to be deployed where their gifts are needed. They can share any considerations that they would like their superiors to take into account- but ultimately they go where they are sent. United Methodist pastors minister in the same way.)
I was preparing for a new members class when I got the phone call from our District Superintendent about meeting for lunch the next day. This is Methodist code for “You’re being re-appointed.” I knew, in the back of my mind, that this was more of a possibility over last year. However, I thought for sure I would 1-3 more years at Orchard with the unique setting of a successful merger that is thriving and really starting to impact our community.
The irony of the move, to Avenue UMC, is kinda like going back home. Eighteen years ago I interviewed and accepted the position as the full-time Youth Pastor at Avenue. My ministry at Avenue lasted nine years. Nine years of building relationships; nine years of spiritual growth and growth as a leader. If it were not for the leadership at Avenue giving me room to spread my wings, I might still be in youth ministry- which would have been great although it may kept me from God’s evolving call in my life.
I’ve been away from Avenue for nine years come July 1st. I’ve grown so much as a leader and as a pastor. While I still have big ideas (and believe in a big God to accomplish those big dreams), I am more willing to say, “I don’t know.” Through ministry at Hope and Magnolia United Methodist Churches, merging the two together, working as a college chaplain, serving as an adjunct professor, and leading through crisis and times of thriving- I have learned to rely even more on the leading of The Holy Spirit.
Over the next four months, I will be throwing myself into preparing Orchard to thrive with new pastoral leadership. I am committed to making sure that Orchard’s new pastor has everything in place to succeed. I will also start relearning the Avenue community. I am excited about the new possibilities and the growth in my own faith as I trust God through the unexpected.