When my departure from Asheville was announced in November, it seemed so very far away that I didn’t put much thought to it. On Christmas Eve walking into the late service, Mark and I looked at each other, realizing at the same time that it would be our last Christmas service together. But we both shook it off and quickly said, “nope, we’re not going to go THERE yet, it’s too soon!” and moved on.
And now, seemingly all of a sudden, it’s the end of May and the “lasts” are coming fast and furious. The goodbyes are beginning. I sat in the Coming of Age credo service realizing that the sharp and articulate young men speaking that day had been 7 or 8 when I arrived here in Asheville — and now they’re so grown up! A lot happens in seven years, even for those of us whose rate of growth has slowed. And so we begin to say goodbye.
As you have already heard, I’ll be going down the mountain a bit — to Greenville, SC where I will serve as the minister of the Greenville UU Fellowship. I am looking forward to the new position at the very same time that I will miss all of you very much. Greenville seems so close, almost as if we could still meet for coffee or hang out; however, it is important to know that there are certain boundaries I will be observing when I leave.
These boundaries are part of the covenant I share with my colleagues in ministry, and they are intended to support the health of our respective ministries. My observation of clear boundaries upon leaving facilitates your process of building a relationship with your new minister of faith development, who, incidentally, I’m totally psyched about. I look forward to observing from afar the terrific ministry you will share.
Once I leave, I will no longer be available for any of your pastoral or other needs. For at least a year after I leave UUCA, I will not return to preach or visit. My ministry among you will end completely. That doesn’t mean I’ll ignore you if we run into each other at a UU event, or if I happen to come back to Asheville once in a while for a little taste of Ginger’s Revenge or Ultimate Ice Cream. We can chat, but we won’t talk about UUCA.
You will also see less of me on social media — for example, my FaceBook settings limit the visibility of posts to honor these boundaries I describe above — much of what I post is only visible to close friends, colleagues, and current congregants. Some is limited even further.
Know that these boundaries are not easy — but they are necessary. I appreciate you taking the time to understand their purpose. We have shared so much these past 7 years, and I’ve been present to so many important moments in your lives — and you in mine. I will miss you deeply.