At our Community Meeting this past Sunday many important things were shared but I wanted to recap just a few of my comments for the sake of those who couldn’t be there.

Since I will be working 25% of what I have in the past, ordinarily that means I will work one full week a month and at the end of that week, I will be the speaker that Sunday morning. As it turns out, while I just started my semi-retirement Monday, I am also speaking this Sunday so I am working this week.

I may be traveling or gone some of the other weeks but when I am at Highlands and am fully available as a pastor, I will either wear my large bronze cross with the return of the Prodigal Son molded into it or a liturgical stole that goes around my neck and over my shoulders symbolically representing the shepherd carrying his sheep. When I’m serving as an available pastor on a Sunday, Leanne and I will drive separately so she can leave whenever she wants.

When I am just at church with my wife worshipping with the Beloved of God, I won’t wear a cross or a stole. Please don’t feel like you need to act weird around me or avoid us, but please don’t try to sneak in a mini-counseling session. If it gets too confusing I’ll just wear flannel pajama bottoms and slippers on the Sundays I’m not “working.” On these Sundays Leanne and I will arrive and leave at the same time in one car, bus, or hot-air balloon.

People are used to emailing me a lot. That is probably going to be the hardest part for me to moderate so that it doesn’t take up hours on my non-working weeks. My email will have a link to something called “Calendly” that will allow anyone who would like to meet with me to see on my calendar what days and times I’m available. Click it and it’s yours! To save a lot of travel time, I hope to meet most people at my home office. If that makes anyone uncomfortable we’ll make other arrangements.

If anyone needs to talk with me at a time when I’m unavailable, you can email our staff Community Connector, Cindy Wells, who will either connect with you or ask someone from our team of pastors and counselors to get in touch.

The Leadership Council has made it a priority in the next year to begin our search for our next full time co-pastor. In the mean time we still have Jenny Morgan and Rachael McClair as co-pastors and I will still serve in that capacity, just with less availability. Jeanna Pynes is our pastor for families and children, we have a great staff, a solid Leadership Council and a strong Strategic Plan to guide us into the future. God will lead us through the joys and challenges of change.

As I enter into this next chapter, my greatest desire is that you will find that the deepest and most grounding sense of your identity is that you are the Beloved of God. You are a “hapax legomenon”! The spectacular, one time utterance of God whose choice and action was to bring you, exactly you, into this world. YOU are the only time YOU are going to happen.

And God has decided that the world needs you!

Nothing but love,

Mark