For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven...
As most of you know by now, my family and I will be leaving Clarks Mills at the end of June. On January 26th I got the call that I knew would come one of these days. Rev. George Porter, our District Superintendent, and Rev. Pat Harbison, the Erie-Meadville District Superintendent, were on the other end of the line on a speaker phone to tell me that the Bishop and Cabinet believed I was the right choice to fill the pulpit at Trinity UMC in Conneaut Lake. On February 2, Martha, Lydia, and I met with the Pastor/Parish Relations Committee at Trinity and after that meeting I was sure it was time to make the move.
First and foremost in my reasoning is that I have always trusted God to answer the when and where questions for my ministry. I wasn't sure about Trinity as I was about Clarks Mills when I first talk to the District Superintendents. But as the next week passed, each day God added something in the way of confirmation. If I didn't believe this move was God's will, I would have turned it down. Clearly there are some benefits to accepting the move to Trinity: it is a growing church that is hungry for God's Word just like Clarks Mills was when I first came here in July 2000. Martha will be able to keep her job, which is a definite plus in this economy. Sarah, Johanna, and Lydia will still be close to their friends from Commodore Perry. Another important family consideration is that I will still be close to my parents.
What I want to make as clear as I possibly can is that we would have been more than content to stay at Clarks Mills if I believe God wanted me to stay here. You folks have brought more to my life and my growth as a pastor than you will ever know. You accepted me not only as your pastor but as a person and embraced all my foibles and quirks with a gracious love and appreciation that made me fell part of the family. You helped provide a safe, healthy environment for our daughters to grow up and and become spectacular people they are(I am a very proud father!). You have been open to new ideas, embraces visions and challenges, been flexible enough to adjust when plans have not worked out perfectly, and have worked together with and without me to witness Jesus Christ faithfully in this community. I am deeply grateful for these past 11 years!
Rev. Dayton Mix has been announced as the next pastor to help lead Clarks Mills UMC forward in ministry. As I told him when he and his wife Gay looked over the parsonage the night he met with our Staff/Parish Relations Committee, he should consider himself blessed as he is getting appointed to one of the best churches in the Annual Conference. I know you will all welcome him, love him and treat him as fairly as you welcomed me 11 years ago. While the Bishop appoints Rev. Mix here, don't ever forget that God is in charge, God is placing him here come July, and is answering our prayer for the kind of pastoral leadership who can keep this church growing in our faith and witness.
The scripture above says simply "For everything there is a season..." and this season I've been call by God to serve as pastor at Clarks Mills has been truly a blessed season for me. Seasons change, pastors change, but God and his work in and through our lived is changeless. We still have four months and a lot of work yet to accomplish together but I want to take this special opportunity to begin saying than you for a most wonderful season for me and my family.