looking back, looking ahead

Thirty-five years after my ordination as a Minister of Word, Sacrament and Pastoral care in the United Church of Canada I have come to the end of active ministry ... in other words, I have retired. It is hard to imagine Saturday nights without anxiety about the sermon and Sunday mornings without the responsibility and privilege and joy of presiding. When I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and amyloidosis four years ago I feared that illness might prevent me from departing from ministry on my own terms. Now, twenty years after arriving at University Hill Congregation, it is the right time to stop and to begin a new life on the other side of congregational ministry.

Some days it is hard to believe that I am old enough to retire. I find myself thinking back to those first sermons and first Sundays in the summer of 1980 on the seven point pastoral charge in Manitoba (Minnedosa, Rapid City, Hunterville, Basswood, Cadurcis, Justice & Clanwilliam). Reading those sermons I find I have changed in many ways and, yet, also see a common thread that has been there from the beginning. Looking ahead I hope to continue to offer my voice in writing and, on occasion, speaking. In the meantime, I am looking forward to catching up on reading and connecting with colleagues near and far. 

Last month at the General Meeting the BC Conference of the United Church those of us who are retiring were invited to speak for to the assembled gathering in response to the question: "How has your understanding of the gospel changed during your ministry?" You can view my response to the question at BC Conference Retirees (it is at the one hour and thirty-eight minute mark).

On June 21 I presided at worship for the final time at University Hill Congregation. The sermon was based on these written notes. Following the service we had a wonderful congregational lunch with speeches and gifts, tears and laughter, hugs and fond farewells. Now I am looking forward to beginning life on the other side. 

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