I have been serving as your pastor since the summer of 2015, now almost four years ago. This time has been a pleasure for me as well as a special challenge, as we have gone through a gradual process of uniting our two historic congregations into one new church. During my service here, I have learned a lot about Long Island, its beauty as well as its challenges, and I have also been schooled in church governance and administration—a subject there is always more to learn about. I gained an overview of Presbyterian activity on the island through serving on the Presbytery Committee on Ministry.
It has been wonderful getting to know you all and making many friends that I hope to stay in touch with for the rest of my life. Now, I must announce my retirement from the active ministry as of June 30, 2019. I am making this decision mostly for personal reasons such as my age (way beyond traditional retirement age), but also because with your new church now in place, you deserve a younger pastor who can lead you with energy and creativity for many years to come. Guadalupe and I have arranged for a home in Albuquerque, New Mexico and we will be moving there this summer in time for Velma and Louis E. to start public school in August.
This is a time for you to dwell not on the downside of things but on the positive potential that still can be found in your congregational future. It is easy to be consumed by worry, since the congregation has only gotten smaller in recent years and decades. However, you are a church still blessed with many active, thoughtful and virtuous members, and you are together responsible for millions of dollars in assets (mostly now in the form of buildings and grounds) that can continue to be put to good use in Kingdom work even if the nature of that work changes over time as your understanding of mission changes. You have many friends within the bounds of the Presbytery of Long Island who can stand with you through the difficult times as well as celebrating the high points. Because you are a congregation in the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, you have a pathway to international mission and to a national network of like-minded Christians who have a vast treasury of wisdom and spiritual insight to share with you.
I pray that God will richly bless you and that our final quarter year together will be productive and memorable.