Beginning a New Chapter as Minister-at-Large



Today I begin my retirement from full-time pastoral ministry. I will admit that it may appear I’m a bit too young to “retire.”  It is true that I've not yet reached what my denomination considers full retirement age. Of course, there is truth in the adage that clergy (and theologians) never really retire. So, let's call this a transition to new adventures. That is, I begin a new chapter in my life that doesn't involve serving a congregation as its full-time or even part-time pastor. 

               Over the past few months been asking what I'm going to be doing once I'm retired. What I've been hearing them ask isn't so much about what I'm going to be doing, but rather what will my identity be once I'm not the Senior Minister of Central Woodward Christian Church? What will I call myself? "Retired Minister" doesn't seem to fit, especially for someone who is still under 65. With that question in mind, I decided to borrow a title colleague who is retired (sort of, as Bill has been doing interim ministries for some time)uses for himself. That title is “Minister-at-Large.” I think this title describes who I am now. While my ministerial credentials and standing remain firmly planted within the Christian Church (Disciples Christ), the arena of my ministry extends beyond the bounds of my denomination. Though to be honest, that’s always been true. In fact, it’s the ecumenical emphasis that is present in the Disciples that attracted me to the Disciples. So, with the Disciples as my foundation, I move into the world to see where the Spirit will lead.

                When it comes to this ministry arena, the truth is, I’ve been active in the community before. The difference now is that I won’t be representing the congregation and I will have more time to take my place within the community. I will still get to preach (in fact, I’m scheduled to preach for a Presbyterian friend in just a couple of weeks). I’m still a chaplain for the Troy Police Department. I have responsibilities with both the Michigan Regional Church (I chair the commission on ministry) and the General Church of the Disciples (I’m a board member of the Disciples Christian Unity and Interfaith Ministry as well as co-chair of the ELCA-DOC bilateral dialogue). Of course, I’ll continue writing. Oh, and I still have a family!!

                As you can see, I’m going to stay busy. That’s as it should be. Thus, a new chapter in my life begins. I will miss the people at Central Woodward, whom I’ve come to love, as well as the rhythm that my pastorate provided me. I knew where I was going to be on any given Sunday. Things will be more open-ended now, and I’m ready to see where the Spirit will lead. It’s fitting that as I retire the second edition of my book Unfettered Spirit is appearing. It serves as a reminder that when the Spirit leads, you don’t always know where you’ll end up. The good news, though, is that the Spirit leads out of love.

                If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, and it goes back to around 2005, be assured that I’ll continue with the lectionary reflections, book reviews, and other forms of commentary. Writing is for me something of an addiction! So, sign up, receive the updates, and join the conversation!


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