A Fond Farewell!
Dear Friends of Faith, how I love you and will miss you!
When I began my work here (on April Fools day!), I began it with a Maundy Thursday invitation to take off our shoes, recognize that all of us stand on humble footing, and love each other “stinky feet and all,” because that’s how Jesus loves us first. My greatest gladness is that those of us who stuck it through those first hard days and those who’ve joined us since have grown in the joy and the ability to do exactly that. We’ve grown more able to see Christ in each other and our neighbors when it’s most unlikely. We’ve loved our neighbors (and sometimes our enemies) as best we could, stinky feet and all. This is a beautiful treasure from God’s own heart. Please receive this gift from God and share at Faith, in Hamilton, and beyond—this grace will multiply and grow beyond what you or I could possibly imagine! (Matthew 25:14-30 & Ephesians 3:18-21)
As I finish my time as your pastor, I offer these hopes for your life and work as persons and congregation. Don’t let them limit you (I only see “as in a mirror darkly”!), but let them open and challenge you to do your own thinking and praying with God:
I hope you trust your council, each other, and yourselves. You have a wonderfully smart, competent, and God-filled group of leaders and a great group of young and old congregants. By the help of God, you have all you need for a wonderful future!
I hope you keep receiving and sharing the love of God in Christ above all things. It’s tempting and natural in crisis or transition to focus on structure and control. But four acts of love will carry you toward God, each other, and the world even through the changes ahead: Radical Hospitality, Fear-free Conversations, Genuine Humility, and Real Hope for Real Life. Inside and outside churches, people long to be welcomed as we are, safe to be and say what’s on our hearts and minds, surrounded by others humble enough to admit our imperfections, and focused on God’s hope in our joys and sorrows. LET GOD’S LOVE BE YOUR MAIN THING. ALWAYS.
I hope Faith will seek out and welcome uncomfortable pushing and challenges to what one former Convener claimed as Faith’s cardinal rules: “Don’t change” and “Don’t spend.” I’ve been easy, often bending to pressure not to talk money or push strategic change. Now, I hope you LIVE INTO YOUR NAME, FAITH! Exercise what Luther called “a living, daring confidence so sure and certain a person would stake their life on it a thousand times.” Pray. Try. Fail. Succeed. Laugh. Trust!
I hope you loosen the purse strings. FAITH HAS ALL THE MONEY IT NEEDS to attract the best pastor and keep the best staff. If you spend strategically and give generously, you have a very good chance for wonderful ministry in the present and amazing possibilities for the future. If you keep tightening the belt, expect slow decline.
I hope you update the playground. Young and old alike have dreamed of this. The Scandinavian dinner set money aside for this purpose for years. Bob and Rachel Gerloff would have loved to see it happen. Just do it. Have a little fun!
I hope you share the ministry of hospitality. Keep greeting folks you don’t know (“I don’t believe we’ve met! How long have you been attending here?”), and keep sharing “crumpets” and conversation. I dream of more kitchen hosts to share the Hospitality Steward’s work load. Lean on Deb to share that “duty and delight”!
I hope you keep loving and teaching kids! From Nancy’s “Little Kids” class, to the on-and-off “Middle Kids” coloring, through Confirmation and Sami’s High School ministry, Faith has more kids and families involved than almost any other Lutheran church in Montana. Keep and grow these groups! Continue Kids’ Talks in worship with sweet love and shameless bribery—you can do as well or better than me! Say yes when LaDonna asks—organization and volunteer support are her tough jobs. And try some new stuff: meals and learning through Workshops on Wednesdays (WOW) are working in other congregations and could be a great family or intergenerational event.
I hope you keep and grow our diverse worship menu. We’re ahead of the curve on music and tech in worship, and you can maintain and grow this, though you may well need to pay some musical talent to help out.
And update and grow the website. It’s Faith’s front door, the first impression, the sign on the highway. Let it reflect your sweet character, strong mission, and competence!
And from my heart, I hope you remember that this is my feeling and commitment toward each and all of you: “I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ… And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” (From Paul’s letter to his friends in Philippi, 1:3-6 & 9-11)
Love always in Christ, Pastor Brenda
New address: 1130 Fairmount Ave., Shelton, WA 98584
A Fond Farewell!