Letter from Pastor Robert

Letter from Pastor Robert

May 14, 2023

Dear Church Family,

It is with a mixture of feelings (excited and sad all at the same time!) that I share with you that I have accepted a call to serve as the Associate Pastor for Worship and Adult Discipleship at Vienna Presbyterian Church in Vienna, Virginia. I shared this news with the session, deacons, and staff this past week and then with the congregation at worship today.

My last Sunday at Good Shepherd will be June 4, and the Session is planning a lunch/reception following worship. Heather and I will likely be in Charlotte through the end of June, but then looking to move to Virginia during the month of July. I will begin my role there on August 14.

For those interested in what God is calling me to, I will be overseeing the worship ministries and adult education and discipleship ministries, two areas of my greatest passion and experience. I will be one of four pastors and the lead pastor is the Rev. Dr. Hope Lee, who was my vice-moderator candidate when I stood for moderator of the Presbyterian Church back in 2012. We are thrilled at the prospect of working together in ministry.

Know that decision was not easy and doesn’t come without a great deal of sadness over leaving what is truly ‘family’ to us. My twenty-one years at Good Shepherd have been fulfilling and full of significant joys and relationships as we walked through life together. In fact, it would have been very easy to stay with you until retirement; we truly love you and love being here. But God had other plans and after much prayer, talking to our children and parents, and getting to know Vienna Pres., Heather and I feel confirmed in our hearts that this is God’s call for our next season.

I also believe the church is in good hands – first of all, the Lord’s! But we also have wonderful and mature leadership and staff, and a congregation bound together by faith, hope, and love. God has you and holds you and I believe you will grow and thrive in the days to come. Please don’t pull back, but press in. Continue to love the Lord and one another with all your heart. And keep listening to the Word and where God is leading you. We will be praying for you regularly and asking God to bless you.

What is coming next? The elders will continue to communicate with you, but I can explain a little bit.

My last Sunday of pastoral responsibilities will be June 4. After that and in the days to come others will provide pastoral care, preaching, and leadership. That even includes significant events like hospitalization and funerals. Over the summer there will be an “elder of the week” along with your assigned deacon if there are any pastoral needs. Eventually the session will hire an “Interim Pastor” with training and experience in caring for a congregation and guiding them through the transition to a new pastor.

There will likely be some information gathering in a variety of ways to check in with each of you before the congregation elects a PNC (pastor nominating committee) to do the work of searching for a new pastor. While you may be eager to get to that point, take your time “doing the work” in-between. It’s hard to change pastors, especially after a long tenure. The session and interim pastor and our wonderful presbytery liaison will help make sure all the right work is done in the right time. (And don’t forget to pray at every step!)

If you have any questions about any of this, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, to any one of the elders, or to your deacon. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll find out!

You have probably heard me say more than a few times that YOU are the church. It’s not the building and it’s not the pastor. I have been privileged to serve as your pastor. But you remain the church in this place and God is still with you to guide, protect, nurture, and lead you; the Lord is your Good Shepherd.

With great affection,