Dear Brothers and Sisters of Home Church,
Julie and I want to thank you for the wonderful recognition, gifts, and reception you gave us on my last Sunday as Theologian in Residence. I was almost speechless in church, and I could not properly thank you all. I have never had a “send off” like the one you all prepared. First there was a wonderful breakfast featuring homemade sugar cake and other goodies. Then there was a “roast” that was more like a warm flame of loving kindness. I will treasure the picture of my Sunday School class and the beautiful words inscribed on it. Then there was an envelop that contained a love offering with a surprising number of pictures of my favorite founding father. I had to sit down when I opened it. After such a start to the day, it was hard to believe that there was more to come in worship, beginning with such encouraging words from people I deeply respect and admire. The gift of the album containing dozens of cards and letters was so thoughtful, and I will treasure it through the years. When the going gets tough in the future, I will pull it off the shelf and be reminded of some of the happiest years of my life. The love offering from the Boards was also unexpected and deeply appreciated, especially in light of my oldest daughter’s wedding on June 20. In case you are curious, Julie and I decided to use part of the money to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary next year – in Italy. It will be a dream come true and seems like an appropriate use for a “love” offering. The only sad part of the day was saying good-bye to so many people who came through the receiving line. I often remind students who are crying at graduation that they should be grateful they attended a school that you do not want to leave. The same is true of congregations you serve. Thankfully, I am going to be serving in a wonderful divinity school across town. We’ll have to see if I make them more Moravian or if they make me more Baptist, but one thing is sure. I will always know where Home is. Thank you again for the gifts and for a wonderful day. Thank you most of all for granting me the privilege of serving at Home Church these seven years.