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The Ending and the Beginning
June 18, 2019, 5:00 PM

And so it ends...And so it begins.

My pastorate and my career as a full-time United Methodist minister will come to an end on Sunday, June 30.  Counting student pastorates in college and seminary, I put in just shy of 44 years in the ministry.

On July 1, Nina and I will move into our new house...the first one we've ever bought, and begin our new life.  We will be living at 612 S. Surrey, in Carbondale.  You are welcome to drop in!  But, be warned...I might be the one doing the cooking.

This Fall, Nina will become a graduate student at the SIU School of Music.  She will be continuing her musical career and her regular job working online for a St. Louis based PR firm.  So, she is going to be busy!

My path is less clear...

I plan to volunteer with CASA of Williamson County.  That stands for (Court Appointed Special Advocates).  It is an organization that provides caring adult advocates for abused/neglected children who are going through the court system.  As the son of an abused child, this is near and dear to my heart.

I also hope to do work as an environmental advocate/activist focusing on getting congregations to become more green.  I am convinced that we face a truly existential threat due to the grossly irresponsible way we have treated our environment, and that our children and grandchildren face terrible threats as a result.  I think it is truly sacred work to promote care for Spaceship Earth, and I hope and pray I can make myself useful in this crucial struggle.  I am convinced it is a genuinely spiritual issue, but just how I will do this is something to be worked out.

I'm thinking about creating a blog about environment/spiritual issues entitled "Livin' La Vida Eco."  I'll let you know if it happens

If possible, I may also find a way to serve a church, part-time.  Whether it will be a United Methodist Church or not, remains to be seen.

You may see me at the Health Center at Logan, or elsewhere around town.  I have some projects that will bring me over here.  But, I will no longer be your pastor, and cannot perform those functions for you.  Larry Gilbert will be your pastor.  He will be a fine one.

Larry's a good guy and a very capable and experienced minister.  He also retired this year, but will be serving this church on a half-time basis for the next year.  During this time, it is our hope and prayer that church giving will be maintined or increased.  The money saved by having a half-time, retired pastor will allow the church to have funds to do some much needed maintenance, such a replacing aging HVAC units (a project that could cost $35,000-$40,000) and I hope the church will also be able to install a solar array.

At the end of that year, a new pastor will be appointed who will serve 3/4 time here, and 1/4 time at the Wesley Foundation at SIU.  There will also be an emphasis on creating a Young Adults Ministry.  This will, no doubt, require changes in the way this church does ministry.  But, without such changes, the future is not promising.  The church needs to do some new, innovative, and creative ministry to bring in people who have not yet been reached and to show them a vision of the Gospel which they will find convincing and inpsiring.

To be blunt, too many churches have failed to do this.  They have simply clung to old ways of doing things, and focused more on maintenance than ministry.  The inevitable result has been a death spiral.  I hope and pray for better from this church.

In the midst of all these transitions, our denomination faces an uncertain future.  The struggles over how we are to minister to LGBTQ people have divided the United Methodist Church and threaten to split it.  A Special General Conference in the Spring of this year barely approved a policy that denied ordination and church marriage to such people.  But, another General Conference is coming next year, and in a stunning development, there was a huge wave of resistance which manifested itself in the election of an overwhelming majority of delegates who disagree with that policy.  The upcoming General Conference is likely to change things, but it's difficult to predict, how.

The one certainty is that God's grace will ultimately prevail.  But how that happens, and when, is anybody's guess.  There have been surprises aplenty, already.

Our task, is to be faithful to our understanding of God's will, and to be open to the possibility we might have more to learn.  Our task, even in times of uncertainty is to be selflessly and humbly loving.

I see no way to retire from that.  So, through all the changes, let us strive to love God and one another, whether we are at the beginning or the end.

May God bless and guide you all.

Thank You and Peace Be With You,

Bob Morwell




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