I don’t do feelings.
But this weekend I let my congregation know I would be appointed elsewhere this June. Here’s the note I wrote them. I thought I’d share it here too.
Hi Friends (and Steve Larkin),If you missed worship this weekend…Or if, like Lew, you’d already fallen asleep before the announcements…just kidding it’s about Grace not Law, right?But if you weren’t here, you didn’t catch the news:I heard last Friday that I will be appointed by the bishop to a different church in June.Our Leadership Team and I had requested to the bishop that I return, but there were needs elsewhere in the conference and so I will be going. Almost 3 years ago to the day, you found out I had stage-serious cancer and now you find out I’ll be leaving you. I’m not very good when it comes to Februarys. My wife, just from the perspective of Valentine’s Day would agree. Can you tell how hard I’m trying to joke this news away? That’s because I don’t do feelings well, and, right now, I’m just sad. As big a pain in the ______ as you can be, I love you.While Methodist pastors are part of an itinerant system, appointed one year at at time, and the unknown of being moved is something that comes up every year, this news is hard to adjust to after serving at Aldersgate for 13 years. Some of the kids who were here when I arrived are the adults I’ve married, and some of their kids I’ve gotten to baptize. I’ve buried many of your parents, and spouses. You’ve taught me to be a better pastor (well, most of you). You helped me keep the faith in the face of cancer, and, most importantly of all, you’re my friends- Dennis most important of them all. Like the tree in a forest, if a joke is told about Dennis and you’re not there to laugh was it even a joke? Not to mention, there’s the added inconvenience of having to rededicate my book to a different church in the second edition.Starting in July I will be the senior pastor at another United Methodist Church in Northern Virginia. That’s all I’m permitted to say right now but I thought you deserved to know as much as you could as early as you could- and, I didn’t think my kids needed to keep our moving a secret longer than necessary.My last Sunday here at Aldersgate will be mid-June. Bright side, the move shaves a few minutes off of Ali’s commute, the boys will remain near their friends, and I will be near my doctors. They boys are still processing the news but are relieved to remain close to their friends and curious about what’s to come.With feedback from our Leadership Team, Dennis will be submitting his choices for a new associate pastor to the bishop in mid-March. You will find out who that person is sometime in April. It’s your job to give that new person every opportunity to succeed. But you know that already I think.Of course, not all of you will miss me or be sad to see me go, in which case, I’d just like to point out that as my last act as your Executive Pastor I will be bringing Aldersgate even further into the black by my departure. So, I get the last laugh.– JasonPS:Stay-tuned for next Sunday when we announce that Dennis will be leaving Aldersgate to join the cast of Moonshine Wars, and make sure you have our special ‘Gettin’ Rid of Richard Good Friday Service.’And because I know that will generate questions from the unimaginative, Yes, that was a joke.