Pastor’s Blog June 2021

Jun 7, 2021 by

Dear Benn’s Church Family and Friends,

Our journey in ministry is quickly coming to a close. Moving day is June 30th, and I will be heading out to Waynesville, NC. On that same day at noon, you will have a new pastor, the Rev. Ileana Rosario. I know she will be blessed by your warm welcome, just as you will be blessed by her presence and ministry. The pastoral baton is passed while on the run, as in a relay race, in our itinerate system. United Methodist pastors are not called by a church to come serve with them; rather, they are sent to a church by our bishop. This means you will never be without a pastor. And you will benefit from the gifts and graces of a variety of pastors. But it also means that there will tend to be more farewells in this kind of system. My farewell with you comes in a year with an exceptional number of changes for us all, and that is stressful. But we are seeing many changes for the better now, as COVID numbers decrease and vaccinations increase. That hopeful trend offers churches and all of us new opportunities.

I come away from this past year, and these past four years with you, very thankful. I am thankful that we have returned to in-person worship in the beautiful sanctuary before I leave, as well as in the Family Life Center, even as we continue to take extra precautions in the process. I am very thankful for all the hard work put in by our Healthy Church Team and so many others to make it possible for us to meet again in person. Most especially, I am thankful for you, and for our time together in ministry here at Benn’s these past four years. I am grateful to you for the many, inspiring ways in which you witness to your faith through the missions of this church; and for the ways in which you carry on in representing the light and love of Christ in this historic place called Benn’s Church, as you stand on the shoulders of generations of disciples who extend all the way back to the foundations of this nation and this movement called Methodism. I’m thankful for the love and care you have shown me. And for any times when I may have caused any hurt, I pray you will forgive me and I thank you for that. I have been richly blessed by you and this place; and I am certain God will continue to lead you forward in ministry well into the future; the opportunities for that abound.

Our conference has been offering exciting and helpful tools this past month to help churches take advantage of those opportunities, and I encourage you to take the time to familiarize yourselves with them. Experts are telling us that as we emerge out of the time of shut-down from the pandemic, we have a unique opportunity: that of beginning anew, as if we were launching a new-church-start. They say that window is open now, if only for a short period of time. So, I encourage you to pray and think deeply and creatively about new ways in which you can, as they say, “re-launch” church right now. Much of that will be digitally; it will probably involve fewer meetings and more hands-on local mission projects. Listen to God; listen to the community’s gifts and needs. Listen to each other’s discernments; re-tell your history and remember who you are; and who you are in the bigger story of God. Look for the new things God does among you. Remember that young people mostly want to find ways to make a difference in the world. Invite them to join you in doing so. Then continue to reach out into this quickly growing and changing community to let folks know there is a faith family called Benn’s Church, and they are invited to come, be a part of it and to help Christ make a difference in people’s lives. (You can find four really helpful webinars on Re-Launching at: PRG Relaunch Webinars | VAUMC , scrolling down, and clicking on each recording).

Whatever you do in faithfulness, I know God will bless it and guide you and that you will remain a presence of Christ’s love and grace in this community and beyond. I have grown to love you; please know that. My upcoming move takes me back to my home state, where I will be closer to family. I feel it is time for me to step back from full-time ministry and retire, but I will be serving as a part-time associate pastor elsewhere for a time (at Long’s Chapel UMC). Soon I will no longer be your pastor, nor available to be called on for weddings, baptisms, or funerals. God is sending you a new pastor who will walk with you faithfully through those pivotal times. Nonetheless, you will remain in my heart and prayers, and we may certainly continue friendships. I hope you will feel free to stay in touch. I would love to hear from you. It has been a privilege and an honor to serve as your pastor. I am thankful for our remaining time together, and I look forward to celebrating these past four years of ministry with you in the coming weeks, as we remember together all that God has been doing during our shared journey. I am leaving with a heart full of gratitude for that and for you. I know God will continue to bless you richly.

Yours in Christ, Betsy Caudill

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