NEW ELLENTON—On June 9, moving pastors had three weeks left in their tenure to deliver their last sermons and bless the congregations they were departing from. The sermons offered in the beginning and ending of an appointment are often the most remembered messages. Since every appointment has its challenges and successes, pastors often review accomplishments and conclude with visions being emphasized and celebrated.
Thanks to the visionary leadership of several key laity at St. Paul and the Rev. Robert Reeves, a worship service was planned for June 9 to emphasize the transition of one pastor to another, with an invitation for their incoming pastor, Susan Pennock, to also participate. As well, several leaders from St. Paul were involved in the service.
The two pastors met several times to prepare a service and pray for each other, their families, and the churches to which they were being appointed. This time of prayer and shared meals brought deeper meaning to the pastoral ministry transition.
Reeves had considered the idea after reading the book “Your Best Move,” by the Rev. Bob Kaylor. The book had been recommended for study and implementation by the South Carolina Conference in transition retreats offered to all moving pastors and local churches this year.
“When I shared the idea of this service to several of the St. Paul leaders, we realized the Holy Spirit had impressed upon us all the same idea,” Reeves said. “What really added to the effectiveness of our purpose was Susan’s cooperation to be present with us June 9. It strongly demonstrated our connection to one another and clearly sent the message of building upon one phase of ministry to another at St. Paul rather than starting all over again with another pastor.”
Both pastors briefly shared their dreams and blessings for St. Paul as exiting and entering pastor. Leaders prayed for each pastor and family. Reeves presented a Bible to Pennock proclaiming her soon beginning ministry at St. Paul.
“What really put the God final touch on this worship service was the celebration of the Lord’s Supper when Robert and Susan distributed the communion elements together to our congregation,” said Betty Fischer, St. Paul’s Council chair. “We had never seen our leaving and entering pastor work together before to emphasize what God was doing in this process for the benefit of our church. It was so meaningful to connect the past to the present to the future. This service helped us to see so clearly what we could celebrate and what we could expect in our future ministry.”
“It was a stress reliever to participate in and experience worship prior to showing up on the first Sunday,” Pennock said. “I am beyond thankful for the welcome of Reverend Reeves. I have also been able to meet with key church leadership on several occasions and we have scheduled ‘Pastor Meet and Greet’ sessions that will take place within the first few weeks of the move. I am grateful for this book, the support of the S.C. UMC Conference for offering the Transition Retreat and suggesting this process, the welcome of St. Paul, and especially Reverend Reeves and his family for such a fun and warm welcome into this season in the life of St. Paul UMC.”
For a copy of the worship service from June 9, St. Paul is happy to share it. Contact Doreen at firstname.lastname@example.org.