Earlier today, I announced in worship my new appointment as the pastor of Mission Bend United Methodist Church, followed by a pastoral email to the members of Perritte Memorial United Methodist Church. I’ll be writing more about that in due time, but for the moment, let me share a portion of that letter with you here:
With a blessed combination of joy and sadness I write to share with you the news that Bishop Huie and the Cabinet of the Texas Annual Conference has appointed me to be pastor of Mission Bend United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, effective July 1, 2014. Our last Sunday together will be June 22nd.
We had planned on making Nacogdoches our home and Perritte our church for many years to come, but our son Timothy’s medical situation changed so many things about our life. You all know, because you have been praying for him over the last year, how difficult a start to life he had, and how the healing ministry practiced at Texas Children’s Hospital played a pivotal role in him becoming the healthy 11-month-old boy he is today. While he continues to improve, we still face a long road ahead with much uncertainty. Serving in Southwest Houston will place us just minutes away from several campuses of TCH, which I firmly believe is the best children’s hospital in the world.
Christie and I have been praying for God’s wisdom and the best hope for everyone’s future for months now, and we believe the Holy Spirit has moved in the life of the church, conference, and cabinet to prepare a place for us. This is an exciting ministry opportunity for us, especially as we will be serving at the same congregation to reach a dynamic, diverse community in the name of Jesus Christ. As we share the Good News and the importance of a church home among new people, make no mistake: we will tell about the time — when we needed it the most — our faith community at Perritte came together to give us time, prayer, support, and love. I am humbled to have served you for the last 3 years, and to continue in friendship with you for many more years to come. Please join us in prayer for one another as we make this change in ministry and life.
One of my favorite writers, the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, was a Jesuit priest and so he also knew about itinerancy: following the call of the Holy Spirit as well as those who supervise and lead our connectional ministry. He wrote a friend after taking up residence at a new ministry setting that,
“I am so far as I know permanently here, but permanence with us is gingerbread permanence, cobweb, soapsud, and frost-feather permanence.”
It is a bittersweet way to be in ministry together, especially right now as spring thaws out the “frost-feather” permanence of our life together. But the beauty found in this time is made all the more intense because it was not long. May God bless you and keep you, making his face to shine upon the people of Perritte, and lifting up his presence across Nacogdoches in this time.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Josh Hale