As you know, Parkview and New Hope will be receiving a new pastor in July. I have spoke with many of you over the last few weeks; I too have mixed emotions about the upcoming transition. I am excited about serving God and neighbor at Magnet Cove/Shorewood Hills UMCs, yet there is a part of me that has grieved the reality I will not be Parkview/New Hope’s pastor – I will not be your pastor – any longer. And that, as they say, is a hard pill to swallow.
My sadness has subsided when I met the next pastor being appointed to Parkview/New Hope. I had the opportunity to meet Bro. Dooley and Janet Fowler recently and they are WONDERFUL, GOD-FEARING people! I am excited to see and hear what awesome things you all can do together for the Kingdom of God in Benton!
I read an article written by Rev. Bob Crossman, a retired AR UMC pastor, titled 50 Ways to Welcome a New Pastor. I wanted to share a few ways as you welcome in Bro. Dooley and Janet:
- Open your hearts and decide that you are going to love your new pastor.
- Begin praying daily for the new pastor and family, even as you continue to pray for your departing pastor and family.
- Invite church members individually to send cards of welcome and encouragement to the incoming pastor.
- Know that welcoming your new pastor in genuine and effective ways lays the groundwork for a healthy and vital relationship and the development of stable, long-term ministries together.
- Do not invite the former pastor to return for weddings, funerals, or baptisms. This allows your former pastor to engage fully with his or her new congregation, and it establishes your new pastor as everyone’s pastor from the beginning.
- Introduce yourself to the pastor repeatedly! You have one name to learn; your pastor has many names to learn.
- Offer to help arrange small group sessions to meet and talk with the congregation.
- Create a “church yellow pages’” (a list of people in the church who have specific skills that a newcomer may find beneficial…. auto mechanic, doctor, dentist, dry cleaners, book store, office supply, etc.).
- Introduce your new pastor to other clergy in the community. Provide information on any ecumenical activities or associations (i.e. Ministerial Alliance).
- Ask church members in civic clubs to take the new pastor to one of their meetings (full 50 list available at www.churchleadership.com).
I want to thank you for welcoming in myself, Kenda, and Cate and allowing us to serve with you over these last two years. My time as your pastor has been meaningful, fruitful, and grace-filled! I pray moving forward: to anyone I hurt or offended, I am sorry and I hope you forgive me; to anyone I supported through a joyous or trying time, thank you for allowing me to walk with you and I hope you allow Bro. Dooley to do the same; to those who grew in grace by knowing Christ better through the time we shared, continue to give thanks to God!
In Peace, Bro. Walt