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Letter From The Rector

Saying Goodbye

It’s hard for me to believe, but this is my last letter for The Call. As you know, my retirement takes effect this month. My last Sunday is July 5th, and then I’ll be in and out of the office until July 9th, my final day.

I’ve thought long and hard for a while now about what to say in this limited space. I have so many thoughts and so many things I want to say. I will miss all of you! You have been so important to me and have been my second family for the past 23 years. Words cannot express all the emotions I’m feeling right now. I know that none of us could have predicted my last two months here would look this way. July 5th will look nothing like you and I had hoped. But I take comfort in Bishop Haynes’ assurance that when we are able to gather again for public worship safely, we can have that last celebration of our 23 years of mutual ministry together. And I look forward to that day.

I may not see any of you on a regular basis anymore, but I will cherish the memories….I have so many memories! Memories of parish family picnics including “Dunk the Monk”, Pie eating Contests, and Corn Hole Tournaments; pancake suppers, Seders, Tenebrae services, Services of Lessons and Carols, Staff and Vestry Retreats, Work trips to Aruba, the Virgin islands, and Belize, and our auction.

I have wonderful memories of Glorious Christmas Eve, Holy Week, and Easter Sunday services and, in particular, Easter Sunday last year when our organist, Elizabeth Miller, thrilled us with her playing of Toccata by Charles-Marie Widor. I will always remember and cherish that faithful small group of 10-15 people who showed up each New Year’s Eve for our worship service (I lovingly called them “the losers” who couldn’t get invited to a party). And I will always remember and cherish those with whom I journeyed the Way of the Cross each year on Good Friday.

I have fond memories of the little (sometimes comical) things. Like Charlie Pfeifer, at the beginning of one of his Advent monologues announcing that he was a shepherd, when he was really playing the role of an angel. Watching Joyce Baker dash across the front of the church before the service started because she had forgotten to “spring ahead” an hour, and of course, our office “intercom” system- which consisted of Vel shouting across the hall, “John, it’s the Bishop for you!"

I Thank God for His calling me to serve as your rector for the past 23 years. You are a church family full of so many wonderful, accepting, and loving Christian people and you have been gracious to me.

I came to St. Peter’s having never served as a rector. And it was your acts of grace, kindness, and patience that allowed me to make mistakes (and I made them) and give me the time to learn my new role as chief priest and shepherd of this wonderful flock.

You welcomed me into your homes and into some of the most important, poignant, and personal times of your life and the lives of your families through births, baptisms, weddings, deaths, memorial services. You shared with me your hopes, your dreams, your challenges and disappointments, and your faith. You helped form me as a priest. And many of you were there to help and support me through prayer and listening as I experienced some challenging events and experiences in my life. And for that, I will be forever grateful.

I have been privileged and blessed over the years to work alongside many faithful and talented vestries and other lay leaders, some whom have passed on to larger life. I will miss our planning sessions and the joy we shared when something we had planned actually worked! And while these individuals may have looked to me for guidance and direction, little did they know that I was learning about leadership from them, as well.

And God has blessed me richly with so many incredible staff members (past and present) with which to share His ministry. I have been blessed to serve alongside so many wonderful and talented people who have sacrificed so much to help make St. Peter’s an active, healthy, friendly, and welcoming church “family” and a wonderful place to worship and learn.

And I just have to say that one of things I will miss most of all is that voice with a slight Welsh accent that I’ve heard almost every day for 23 years saying, as she answered the phone. “Good mohning, St. Petahs! Vel Shreve….you are the best!

There is so much more to say, so many thoughts and memories to share; and perhaps I’ll have opportunities in the future to share them. But please know that I will always cherish my time as your rector and the myriad ways in which you supported me over the past 23 years. And I will hold you all in my prayers daily as we seek to discern God’s will in this next chapter of our lives. God loves you, and so do I.

Peace and Love,