As Kathy and I prepare to say goodbye to you, our church family, it is with much joy and also with deep sadness. We are so joyful to have served with you in reaching out with Jesus’ love. You are such a generous and loving family of God. We have so much loved our time with you. It is sad to know that we won’t see you each week. It is especially sad to think that we won’t be lifting up praises with all of you in the choir.

And yet, we will always remain friends in Christ. As Michael W. Smith wrote “Friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them.” Friends, even if we never meet again on our life’s journey on earth, we trust we will see you in God’s heavenly kingdom.

I have prayed about what message I would want to leave you with as I say goodbye as your pastor. I write this closing letter in a time of great turmoil in the United Methodist Church, the church to which I have dedicated the work of my life. I believe the church is a reflection of the division in the culture of our world today. We seem to be so divided around issues (homosexuality, abortion, immigration, politics, etc.) to the point where people turn their backs on each other. Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy!

I wish to leave you with one single, simple truth………………..Jesus!

My greatest hope for you and me and all the world……………Jesus!

And so I leave you with a prayer and a song:

The prayer by Saint Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. Amen.

The song by Fernando Ortega (to be sung at my funeral):

Well, you’ll have to come on Sunday, June 16, my last Sunday, to hear it. It is called “Give Me Jesus.” In the end, when all is said and done, my friends, I wish for you the love of Jesus. May he dwell in each of you as you continue to serve in his name.

In Christ’s love, always

Pastor Jeff