That’s how many combined years of ministry this year’s Retirees and Jubilarians are marking!
One of the last duties the Past President of the Conference/Region has in this area is to arrange the Retirees/Jubilarians Banquet at the annual meeting. Since our annual meeting is once again on-line this year, it was decided to ask each retiree/jubilarian to send in a few pictures, tell us about significant moments in their ministry and name for what they were most grateful in their ministry. They had my email address to send them to and as I received them, I didn’t even read them, just tagged them, so I could easily find them all later.
I have been Past President for two years. My year as President was both energizing and demanding as it was the year that the United Church restructured and we all had to learn new governance. Last year, since we were dealing with the early months of Covid everyone, including the President, was asked to stay on for an extra year, so this is my second year as Past President. Of course, all of us agreed as we were all scrambling to adapt to new ways of being in ministry and living, we couldn’t envision how we would elect a new executive.
I confess that approached the task as one more thing to check off a lengthy to do list, especially as I was getting ready to go on sabbatical and the preparation necessary for that. But when I sat down to actually do the task, and read their submissions, something shifted, I found myself filled with awe and humble gratitude for their ministry.
Women who were the first to be ordained in their conference, women who were vilified for introducing inclusive language, women who were often the first women to serve many pastoral charges and all the challenges that that entailed, women who pursued doctorates, who were sustained by their call and colleagues.
Men who served churches that were models for others, men who mentored others along the way and who continue to mentor others, men who oversaw building projects, men who had ecumenical opportunities around the world that were financially possible at that time.
Through those 947 years of collective ministry, the people were gathered, the bread was broken and the stories were shared.
Rev. Diane MacVicar summed it up for me when she wrote, and I share it with her permission, “55 years!! What would I rather have done with my life? NOTHING! But the privilege to be called and enabled to answer this call to the best of my ability in the faithfulness of God’s presence.”
And that’s my window on God’s world