To Members and Friends of
St. Giles Presbyterian Church
Dear Fellow Saints,
I am leaving St. Giles in order to accept God’s call to the First Presbyterian Church in Champaign, Illinois. Accepting this new call thrills me. Leaving you breaks my heart.
Words simply fail me in thanking your for these 13 years of shared service. Maybe the best thing I can do is invite you to imagine two pictures. The first is of my sons when we arrived here in August 2004. John Mark is a child, five years old, and ready to begin kindergarten. Benjamin, heading to second grade, still sucks his thumb. Joseph is stoically petrified to begin sixth grade and the harrowing adventure of middle school. Look at their faces: sheepish, smiling, expectant.
The next picture is recent. You see these fine, young men you helped raise. You loved them, taught them, challenged them, nurtured them, prayed for them, played with them, dreamed with them, and created a sanctuary for them in which to grow up to be the confident, gracious souls they are now. By the grace of God, you helped do this. How do I say thank you for that?
In both of these pictures, you see your own shining faces. My Mom is there. She’s holding a blackberry wine cake and beaming her shy smile. We are surrounded by a communion of saints, the living and the dead (see their faces?), and you, and me. It’s a crowd. It’s our church. Blest be the tie that binds.
Like our sons, our ministry together has flourished. We are a seven-day-a-week congregation. InDwellings, Thornwell, the French School, and the Eastside YMCA have become newly nested on our ample campus, collectively generating income and in all cases garnering sincere community good will. AA, scouting, CESA training and summer camp, and other long partnerships such as Interfaith Hospitality Network and neighborhood groups continue serving our community from our campus. Partnerships with Galilee Korean Presbyterian Church and Mattoon Presbyterian continue to deepen. All of this growth is due not to our formidable energies, but to the boundless grace of God. Again by the grace of God, we’ve done well financially over these years retiring a hefty mortgage and updating our long-neglected campus in two successful capital campaigns. Additionally, we support mission, and, recently, connected to two international missionaries, the Johnsons in Zambia and the Shannons in Ethiopia and soon Turkey. To the glory of God, St. Giles remains both sanctuary and launch pad.
I’ve loved serving by your side. Working and dreaming with you and our faithful staff has been nothing less than a means of profound grace. Rachel is concluding work with clients at Baptist Hospital Easley and A Sacred Space Counseling services at Disciples United Methodist Church; she’s also saying goodbye to the saints at McCarter Presbyterian Church where she’s served as pastor for two years. Our sons will continue their paths at Montreat, Furman, and USC. Ben and John Mark remain members of St. Giles. You have been our home.
By the time you get this letter, your Session will have been apprised of my new call. They—or a transition team—will seek answers to your most pressing questions, meet with the Committee on Ministry of Foothills Presbytery for guidance, and plan a goodbye celebration for after the holidays. Pray for my friend Rev. TJ Remaley as his duties may increase. If the way be clear, my last Sunday will be one of the first two Sundays in January.
In the meantime, the season of Advent is blessedly upon us. This is a season to focus upon the God who spanned the chasm between heaven and earth with the birth of Jesus in a lowly manger. At Advent, we remember that the light of God’s love always guides us, and God’s grace still abounds. We are in good hands. God is good.
I was born and raised in the sight of water in Hampton, Virginia. I was baptized and nurtured in the Presbyterian church. There was never a time when weekly worship attendance, the giving of ...