I cannot even begin to describe what it feels like to say goodbye to all of you at Country Club Christian Church. Your gracious love, constant kindness and ongoing prayers are gifts I will carry with me the rest of my life.

One of the greatest things you have done is help me learn how to let go of fear. I recognize the irony of this gift. After all, I preached often and regularly about leaving fear behind, about letting our faith and the promise of God’s grace guide us in all we do and say. I believe in this message but there were times in our shared ministry when I was very concerned, afraid even, that the steps we were taking were the right ones. Time and time again, many of you stepped into a place where I was filled with fright (without even realizing it) and said or did just the right thing to help me get through.

A few years back a long-time member of our church came into my office without an appointment and announced, “I have a sense you need to be prayed for today. May I pray with you?” I said, “Of course,” and by the end of her prayer my face was filled with tears. Moments like that were repeated over coffee, lunch, and the phone. Last year, on one of our small group prayer runs, my running partner spoke words so encouraging I felt as though the very voice of God was speaking right to me!

Another thing you all have done for me is help me learn how to trust in the Spirit of God and in each other. I firmly believe the Spirit is at work in this place. There are many wonderful signs of new life emerging, of energy being restored, of hope being rekindled. By learning to trust in each other we’ve seen the power of God made real. This church is blessed with tremendous lay leadership. Every accomplishment we have achieved here during the last 14 years is a direct result of the talented and committed leaders who have been more than willing to do whatever it takes to see our ministry thrive.

Finally, there are many other gifts I could name but none more valuable than the gift of grace. I came on to this campus preaching grace but I saw grace made real in your lives, your love and your efforts to care for each other. Your gracious reception of me as your pastor, your love for Julie and our boys, Nate and Steven, will stand forever as symbols of the great love and grace God has poured out on all of you, the merciful and tender-hearted people of Country Club Christian Church.

Grace and peace to you,