September 16th, 2020
My Dearest Holy Comforter Family,
This is a letter I knew that I would one day write, but never wanted to believe it. It’s with the most extreme mix of sadness and excitement that I tell you that I have been called to be the next Dean of St. Peter’s Anglican Cathedral in Tallahassee, FL. My last Sunday at Holy Comforter as your Rector will be October 18th, 2020. In the coming weeks, Bishop Lawrence will be working with the vestry to develop a plan both for the interim period between Rectors and the calling a new Rector for Holy Comforter.
It has been a privilege and honor beyond anything I can explain to have worked and served alongside you for the past 11 years, and even more so as your Rector for the last 6. I want you to know that I am not being called away from you, but to St. Peter’s and serving the wider Church. Kim, our boys, and I will be here for plenty of discussion and questions, and this is not our final farewell, but in the remainder of this letter, I want to answer two questions – Why now and why this call?
First, why now?
The truth is that there is never a perfect time, but I have come to believe this is God’s kairos time. I did not know then, but looking back it is clear I was called to see Holy Comforter through a contentious time of lawsuits and conflict. I have learned hard lessons of patience and known God’s grace in ways no human could ever imagine. We have been through this struggle for the gospel together, most of you have stayed in and stood your ground, and we have come through. I truly believe that the worst of that is behind us and that this congregation is poised to start a new chapter, an era unmarked by the existential threat of the past several years, a time of asking, “what now, Lord?” It is clear to me that the vision for that new chapter will be given to someone else, and I am excited to see how God directs this.
You might also reasonably ask why I would leave in the middle of a pandemic. All I can really say is that Kim and I have struggled with that very question more than any other, even more than the lawsuits. The reality of this pandemic is that we simply don’t know when it will be over enough. We are now 7 months in, and it was clear months ago that there will probably not be a single day when we can say the threat has passed. Still, we are in a good and stable place. Almost half of the congregation has decided to return to in-person worship, even with the restrictions in place, and the staff is working hard on exciting bible studies and small groups that will be sustainable. I would not have picked this time, either for my family or for Holy Comforter, but after many hours of prayer, I believe it is the time God has anointed.
Next, why this particular call?
I did not seek this call or ask to be considered for it. I wasn’t looking for another job – my family and I love Holy Comforter and love each of you. Several months ago, the bishop of the Diocese of the Gulf Atlantic called me to ask me to allow my name to go forward for consideration as the next Dean of his cathedral. My initial inclination was to say no, that this was not the time. However, after praying with Kim and speaking to Bishop Lawrence, prayer intercessors, and trusted friends, it was clear that this is not simply the consideration of another parish, but a call to serve the broader Church.
Finally, please know that leaving Holy Comforter is incredibly difficult in more ways than I can express. This is the only home our boys have really known. You are our family, and I want only the very best that God has to offer you. I will leave here with sorrow, but with a heart bursting with love and thanks for each of you. I also do so certain in the knowledge that you remain my family and that we have eternity together in Jesus Christ, compared to which the time apart is but a moment. I am confident that for Holy Comforter, the best is yet to come.
“For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.” – Colossians 2:5 (ESV)
Yours servant now and always in Christ Jesus,