Friends of Portland Mennonite Church,
At the end of our worship service this morning I told the congregation that I will be retiring at the end of August. I want to make sure you hear the news from me too. This summer I will be 65, and August 31 will be exactly 25 years that I have served as Lead Pastor at PMC. It's time; it's time for me, and it's time for the congregation. My wife, Molly, and I will both retire this summer. We are not exactly sure what is next for us, although we are definitely planning to stay in Portland and are very much looking forward to the next season of our life together.
PMC is also on the cusp of a new season. We are coming out of the pandemic, and there are opportunities to re-think the ways we do church together. PMC is also in the midst of a generational shift. Many of the 'pillars of the church' when I arrived here in 1999, have moved or passed away. Happily, PMC has a wealth of younger and committed leaders. But looking forward, PMC needs a Pastor to help lead the congregation for the next 8-10 years. And that won't be me. When a Lead Pastor leaves, it is inevitably disruptive. But this can also be an invigorating time for the church as you talk together about what has been meaningful and as you imagine what lies ahead as you 'seek the peace of the city.'
It has been one of the great privileges of my life to serve as a pastor at Portland Mennonite Church – to share our lives together, to work out our faith together. When I think back over the last 25 years, I remember so many people and so many moments. And I am filled with tremendous gratitude for them all. Thank you, thank you, thank you,
I am looking forward to the next eight months of our life together. Peace to you,
After I spoke this morning, Colleen Milstein (chair of the Table), shared about the plans that are being made for this season of transition. Here is a short summary:
- Next Sunday, Eric Massanari (Executive Conference Minister for PNMC) will be at PMC. He will preach at the 9:30 am worship service and then there will be a Congregational Forum at 11:00 am. We will plan for regular Forums and gatherings through the spring. A Transition Committee will be formed to guide the congregation through the next eight months and to create settings and spaces for us to remember and celebrate all that's happened in the last 25 years.
- The Table, in consultation with Eric, has decided to hire an Intentional Transitional Pastor (ITP) for at least one year. This person will preach, lead the staff team, meet with the Table, and do pastoral care. In addition, they will have training and experience to guide the congregation through this period of change. The Table is working with Eric and Rachel Ringenberg Miller (of Mennonite Church USA) to identify candidates. The Table has formed a Hiring Committee of Table members with the intention of having an ITP in place on September 1.
- A Search Committee for a long-term, 'settled,' pastor will also be formed this Spring. Their first task will be to listen in the Forums that will take place through the spring. They won't begin the active work of searching for a settled pastor until the Fall. It could take a year or more to hire a new Lead Pastor and to have that person in place at PMC.
- Please hold Rod, the Table, the congregation, and this process in prayer.