Honoring The Pastors In My Life – As Imperfect as WE are!

So I did the math. In my 59 years of life I have had eleven people I called Pastor —  and gladly so! And from my college days forward (pastor # 2 on the list) I worked and served alongside this group of men AND women as a Pastor myself — and gladly so!

And one surety and a peak behind the curtain, knowing OUR actions and attitudes both on and off the stage, WE are ALL imperfect. Every single one of us! 

We follow a calling, however we fall short of our calling, often. I have loved, and learned from, and yes to be honest at times loathed this group I am part of. WE are not perfect shepherds and not perfect sheep.

So why the reflection? This month Sharon and I say farewell to our friend and Pastor of the past five years, Rev. Mary Beth Hardesty-Crouch. We have known her as the Pastor of Vista Ridge United Methodist Church (our local parish) where she has admirably served for the past nine years. She recently was appointed as Pastor at First United Methodist Church is Allen, TX. 

We will miss her on so many fronts – her excellent preaching, love of people and our community, fearless voice into our culture, and love of God that inspired us. We are happy/sad for her new opportunity. In her leaving we welcome our friend Rev. Clay Horton who will Pastor Vista Ridge UMC.

And we are reminded in this time of transition that we should hold our relationships and respect for our Pastors RIGHTLY. Not elevating them above the imperfect people WE are. And not solely RELYING on them to be our spiritual be all and end all. However we should recognize their hope and calling to Pastor the flock of God well. 

In our Bapti-methodist journey we are learning via John Wesley of the beautiful liturgy and prayers of worship. On Pastor Mary Beth’s final Sunday the church participated with her in this beautiful and meaningful farewell. I thought it worthy and instructional and so I have included below.

Pastor Mary Beth: I thank you, the members and friends of Vista Ridge United Methodist Church, for the love and support you have shown me while I have ministered among you for the past nine years.

I am grateful for the ways my leadership has been accepted. I ask forgiveness for the mistakes I have made. As I leave, I carry with me all that I have learned here.

Congregation: We receive your thankfulness, offer forgiveness, and accept that you now leave to minister at First United Methodist Church in Allen. We express our gratitude for your time among us.
We ask your forgiveness for our mistakes. Your influence on our faith and faithfulness will not leave with your departure.

Pastor Mary Beth: I accept your gratitude and forgiveness, and I forgive you, trusting that our time together and our parting are pleasing to God.

I release you from turning to me and depending on me. I encourage your continuing ministry here and will pray for you and for your new Clay Horton. 

Let us pray: Eternal God, whose steadfast love for us is from everlasting to everlasting, we give you thanks for cherished memories and commend one another into your care as we move in new directions. Keep us one in your love forever, through Jesus Christ our Lord. ~ Amen.

I am grateful for all the Pastors and the contributions in my spiritual growth and development, from my child hood pastor to Pastor Mary Beth:

Rev. Leo Smith  – Childhood Pastor who baptized me and faithfully served

Dr. David Cavin – College Pastor who revealed a bigger world and church

Rev. Dan Thompson – Helped nurture my calling to ministry

Rev. Charles Couey – Passionate for sharing the gospel with people 

Dr. Jerry Falwell – Embodied dreaming and envisioning a movement

Dr. Robert Alderman – Integrity and expository preaching/teaching 

Dr. Jim King – Modeled the craft and vocation of pastoral ministry

Dr. Jim Johnson – Visionary, inspiring leader, engaging speaker, mentor and friend

Rev. Russ Martin – Personified the Seeker movement, excellent speaker 

Dr. Larry Parsley – Consummate Pastor, gifted orator, talented writer, mentor and friend

Rev. Mary Beth Hardesty-Crouch – Thought leader, fearless cultural voice, Pastoral role model, community advocate, gifted orator, mentor and friend

Grateful,

Jim

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