989-662-6314 office@auburnumc.org

May 4, 2018

3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;  (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4)

Members and Friends!

Melissa Grew asked me in passing last week, “How’s the countdown going?”  My response was that everything is good…and it is!  Yet, after I reflected a bit more deeply I came to the realization once again that there are highs and lows with this retirement thing.  On the one hand I’m very much looking forward to having more freedom to be with family and friends, to spend time doing the things I enjoy with people with whom I enjoy spending time.  On the other hand it’s disorienting at times because ever since 1983 when I was asked to serve a small Congregational church in the south end of Columbus, Ohio, I’ve been serving congregations in one form or another.  Serving for 34 years has become a habit and habits aren’t easy to change.  So there are moments when I feel a sense of loss not only as a result of over three decades of service but also because of the inevitable and necessary changes in relationships that matter to me after serving in this place for 9 of those 34 years.  It is both a grieving and a celebrative process.

It reminds me a bit of the range of feelings our family has experienced after Lynn’s father’s death in December.  It happens to everyone after losing a loved one.  As the writer of Ecclesiastes writes, there is “…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”  Last week I was going through some of Jack’s drawers in his basement work area and I burst into laughter when I opened a drawer and found over a dozen flashlights.  Jack was a collector of flashlights and I used to tease him about it frequently, asking him if he had enough yet.  He’d laugh and launch into his Scottish brogue, call me “Laddy”, telling me a man can never have enough flashlights.  Odd how memories of brief moments with someone loved elicit joy—and then tears.

These kinds of transitions often bring a range of feelings.  Maybe you’ve experienced them yourself.  No doubt you have.  Maybe not about a pastoral change but certainly in your personal life with someone you’ve loved.  At any rate, I expect many of us are in the same boat when it comes to experiencing what Ecclesiastes describes in the third chapter.  Life is so often about change.  It can be disorienting but that’s not always a bad thing because it can also lead to growth and new life.  I celebrate having been a part of writing a chapter in Auburn UMC’s life and look forward to what has yet to be written with a new pastor.

That is certainly my hope and prayer for you as we say goodbye to each other and as Rob Nystrom comes with his wife, Rhonda and son, Josh.  Please be open and welcoming to this new family as they get acclimated to this community and this congregation.  Remember that they, too, are both grieving and celebrating and will no doubt be experiencing a range of feelings as you may be.  Above all, I entreat you to love them with the kind of love the Apostle Paul describes:

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  (1 Corinthians 13)  Be the kind of church for this new family that embodies Paul’s words.

Some additional things to be aware of:

  1. You may be aware that Sheryl Bellor has resigned for personal reasons. In light of the pastoral change I’ve spoken with Rob Nystrom about whether or not to initiate the hiring process for the Coordinator of Children and Family Ministries or wait until his arrival so he can have input regarding who that person might be.  We both agreed it would be wise to wait until Rob arrives and can work with the SPRC in hiring new staff.
  2. Becky Jenkins has graciously volunteered to coordinate Vacation Bible School since we do not have a staff person to work with the Faithbuilders Ministry Team to organize this important ministry. VBS will take place toward the end of August in order to give volunteers time to put it all together.  Stay tuned because your help will be needed.
  3. The trustees are currently investigating costs for possible bathroom renovations to make the bathrooms on the lower level handicap accessible which is why you may have noticed tile still in the hallway.
  4. The trustees are also planning to build a two-car garage for the parsonage. Rob and his family are planning to move into the parsonage on June 14th.  The current single garage is being moved to be used as a storage building on another part of the church’s property.  Volunteers will be needed to make this happen, so please stay tuned.
  5. We have two students participating in Confirmation this year: Lakin Weitzel and Olivia Erwin.  Each has been paired with a mentor:  Sue Plessner and Denise Horswill, respectively.  They will be working in pairs for the next few months.  Confirmation Sunday is June 10th should they decide to become members of the church.  Please pray for them and this journey and ask them how things are going for them.  Offer your support.
  6. Also on June 10th an opportunity to turn in the results of our work in living out “The Parable of The Talents” will be offered during worship. It’s been neat to hear of all the creative ways in which so many are using your talents in order to build up the kingdom of God by empowering us to pay our apportionments.  A lot of baking, woodworking, sewing, engine repairs, cooking and other things are among the talents about which I am aware.  If anyone needs more seed money, by the way, we still have some available.  See Jenn in the church office if you need more.
  7. On June 17th—my last Sunday—we will have ONE BLENDED SERVICE at 11:15 a.m. to better facilitate the festivities for that day. I will be on vacation June 18-24 but returning June 25-29 to participate in One Week One Street, do any pastoral calls that need to be made and tidy up any lose ends for the transition.  Rob Nystrom officially becomes the pastor on July 1.


With gratitude for God’s grace and for you!


Duane M. Harris