Disengagement – The Fount Account

As the date of my retirement approaches, I think it is good to think about and plan for the transition. I have been privileged to serve as your pastor for the past 10 years, and while that is not even half the time that Pastor John served you, it is still a significant length of time (especially for a Methodist pastor!).

So, what can we expect?

For Cyndy, Nathan and me it is a matter of letting go. The Fount is much more to us than simply a “job.” The Fount is our family, and letting go of our church family will be difficult. For ten years, we have come to know and love you and depend on you for support and encouragement. And during those ten years, I know that you have come to know and love us as well. Disengagement, from our perspective, means releasing The Fount (and each of you) from our influence. Much like parents of young adult children must let go, so we must let go and allow you to soar under new pastoral leadership. The Fount is graciously allowing my family and I to remain in the parsonage for several months so that I can recover from my knee surgery (in July) and so that we can be near enough to Cyndy’s mother to continue helping to care for her. We will, of course, be paying rent, but it is a blessing to us at a critical time in our lives. Eventually, we plan to move to Texas, but for now we will remain in California.

But that means it will be more difficult to let go, perhaps especially for the congregation.

As was announced in church this past Sunday, the Rev. Brian Long will be your new pastor as of July 1st. I know Brian and I trust he will be an excellent pastor for The Fount, and that you will welcome him and his family with the same open arms with which you welcomed the Haworth’s. But there must be a disengagement. After June 30th, I will no longer be your pastor. That means you must not come to me for pastoral care; I will defer all such encounters to Pastor Brian. That means you must not come to me to discuss church matters; I will defer all such encounters to Pastor Brian. Our relationship, yours and mine, will transition from a pastoral relationship to a friendship. We will not be attending worship at The Fount so that Pastor Brian and you can develop a solid relationship of your own. This may feel like an unloving step, but like releasing a young adult child to live their own life, this too is necessary. It is critical for true growth to occur. Without this disengagement, an unhealthy dependency can develop.

Ordinarily, when a pastor moves from one church to another, this “problem” does not exist since the pastor moves on to a new church just as the new pastor moves in at this church. But since I am retiring and not going to another appointment, and since we are not moving out of the area right away, this creates a unique situation. I trust we will navigate this challenge well and, in time, we can adjust to our new relationship well and in a healthy manner.

The plan to continue integrating The Fount with Free Life Community Church is still on-going. Pastor Paul Park will remain on staff at The Fount, and he and Pastor Brian will continue to work on drawing the two congregations together. There will be a Townhall meeting this Wednesday (April 17th) at 6:30 PM in the Sanctuary, to which you are all invited and urged to attend. Presentations will be made and questions answered. So, please come and lets talk about where God is leading the two congregations!