A while back I wrote about the heartache of having a congregation request dismissal from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). We were entering the process of learning how to say farewell and it felt awkward.
Now the moment has come and gone. The final requirements for dismissal have been met. The pastor and session of the church have been examined and received by the EPC. The letters have been written to the respective bodies. The presbytery has been informed.
We held a service of healing and wholeness at the conclusion of our presbytery meeting Saturday. The pastor of the congregation was present. It was a needed time for worship and prayer. The service was masterfully led by a member of our presbytery who serves as a hospital chaplain. The worship was an occasion for us to hear words of comfort and to listen to words of truth and honesty.
I’ve been moving through this week wondering what has me feeling down. It dawns on me that what I’m feeling is grief. I’m feeling the same emotions that a person feels following the loss of a friend or family member. We held a service…shared a meal together and now it is the week afterward and the house feels emptier.
Certainly the circumstances are not the same as those surrounding a death. I can still visit the pastor of this church. I know they are still around. But things are different now. I will no longer hear the counsel and opinion of this pastor and elders in meetings of our presbytery. I will not have the opportunity to serve with them on the committees and in the work of our presbytery. I will carry with me the question “What if?” when it comes to the mission of our presbytery.
Grief is grief – no matter the circumstance.
Here are my words saying goodbye to my friends at Reflections Church:
“Good-bye to you, my friends in ministry and my sisters and brothers in Christ. I realize that we’ve reached the fork in the road and as Robert Frost wrote, the path we chose “made all the difference.” I know that God will bless you in your mission and ministry within another denomination. I pray that God will continue to bless the Presbytery of Boise in our journey.”