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And today, I say farewell to my beloved church

Here is a bit of what we did today as a farewell to our ministry at Camas Friends Church.

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved…

Rejoice [Farewell] in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice [Farewell]. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you…

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” -Philippians 3:21–4:13

What an incredibly rich, beautiful and emotional day. It was truly a Camas Friends Church send off if there ever was one. We sang all my favorites this morning including, simple gifts, teach me to stop and listen, leaning on the everlasting arms, benediction, instruments of peace and more.

Jamie Twyman, being ever the good sport, then accompanied me as I (tried to) sing Dylan’s “Forever Young” as a prayer and blessing to the church (Harmonica and all).

Lee Foster jumped in on a short skit I wrote about God calling me on the infamous red phone (sorry, it’s an inside joke to CFC and was a gift from Al and Sheri). Lee played God and seemed to get a little TOO into it.
The point of the skit was found in the gravelly voice of God/Lee, “Listen, Wess…let me let you in on a little secret…It’s always better to leave while people are still sad to see you go. And if I’m being totally honest with you, if you stay much longer … well, let’s just put it this way – even the good people of Camas Friends have a limit to their patience.”

Then I offered a few – serious – words of thanks to the many who have helped serve alongside me these past six years.

On the 15th Day of May, 2009, I began my ministry here at Camas Friends Church. I have with God’s help and to the best of my abilities, and a lot of rubber bands, sticky tac and white-boards, been faithful to the call you extended to me.

After much prayer and discernment, it is clear to me that I must now leave this congregation and follow God to Guilford College, where I am being called to next. Therefore, as of today, June 28th, 2015, my tenure as your pastor and released minister comes to an end.

 I guess that makes me a released released minister. Or “really” released minister. Not sure which?

We said some responsive prayers, which were dangerously close to being liturgical, and I offered the traditional blessing that I have used so many times as the pastor of this church:

“May God Bless you and Keep You… (Num. 6:24-26)”

Then we had open worship. I spared Friends from one last sermon. During open worship, friends shared many meaningful and tear-filled stories and gratitude. Afterward, Carolyn Myers presented us with traveling minutes both for the family and for myself and Sheri Hendrix offered closing words and recited the song, “Till we meet again.”

Then we all gathered out in the garden to plant a Liberty Apple Tree, a gift from our family to the meeting. And then after all that Ronald Myers took a photo of everyone and then, only then did we have lunch! And you better believe we’d worked up serious appetites from all the tears.

Also, a special thanks to the minister of Kleenex, Al Hendrix, and to Carrie Pattison who made Emily Miller Daniels and I our own special Camas Friends handkerchief that presented prior to worship and was labeled “Open Now.” That really came in handy!

Friends, thank you for all who were involved in making this morning so special, thank you for everyone who came to celebrate with us and send us off in style. We will never forget it.

Today I end my tenure as pastor of Camas Friends Church and we ended it in style!

Published by

Wess

...is the William R. Roger Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.