Posted on Aug 06, 2019 by Pastor Dave Whetter
For the past ten years, Jill and I have had the pleasure of being a part of this faith community. It has been an absolute joy to be your pastor, and I thank you for allowing me to be an integral part of your lives. For the longest time, my hope and my prayer was that this would be my last call and that I would be here until I retired, but I think you all know me well enough to also know that I never presume that what I want is what God necessarily wants for me. And so, in my prayers, I have always told the Lord that I would always follow her will for my life.
Several months ago, something began stirring in me. As I shared this feeling with Jill, we came to trust that this feeling was the Holy Spirit. It was time for us to be open to change in our lives. Even though things were and are going well here at Salem, as we prayed, it became apparent that the Holy Spirit is calling us to a new journey, and it is now time for us to leave Salem to begin this new chapter in our lives. I am truly excited about my new role, where I will once again be challenged to use my gifts and my love for the church, but in a broader role, as the Bishop’s Associate here in the Central States Synod.
But to do this, we must sadly say goodbye. Years ago, when I was first ordained, I remember asking a pastor that had been ordained for many years what the most important thing was that I would need to know as I began this new ministry. He looked at me and said, “Always love your congregation!”. I can honestly say I love each and every one of you. As a faith community, we have had times of joy and times of sorrow, we have celebrated together and we have mourned together, we have struggled together and we have resolved disagreements together, we have drank a lot of coffee together and shared many-a-potluck together, and through it all we have become a family, which is honestly what makes saying goodbye so difficult. But as that great philosopher Winnie the Pooh once said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” In our sadness and in our joys, though, Christ sustains us with his grace and love. As we now say our goodbyes, let us remember that Jesus also has given us a blessed goodbye, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Once again, thank you for calling me as your pastor, for inviting me into your lives, for your trust, for allowing me to serve you, for blessing Jill’s and my life so richly, and thank you for making these past ten years so incredible that it is now very difficult to say goodbye.