E-pistle Archives

June 28, 2020 Farewell Service

June 28, 2020, marked my last Sunday at LPC, and the last Sunday of 45 years in full time ministry.  Thanks to all who participated – virtually here and at the LPC  Drive By Reception

June 26 – Final Edition

Final edition – LPC people, you will receive an email or two from me next week with some details and logistics having to do with transition, but this is the last, the final edition, of the LPC E-pistle.

In case you haven’t heard, I’m retiring.

As the screenshot in the header indicates, the first edition of what would be a mostly-weekly missive began the first week in February, 2008, my first week at LPC.  And because it always makes for a good story, I can tell you some people told me I couldn’t do it.  “We already have a monthly newsletter,” they said.  “People won’t read it,” they insisted. So I did it.

“News and Notes,” it said. That’s pretty much been the formula ever since.  Some highlights of things going on in the church and then my notes.  “Pastor Bill’s comments on faith, life, and the world,” the current version says.

Some thoughts on this final edition: Continue reading

June 19 – The Ties that Bind

These are days of difficult decisions. Do I favor the owners or the players in the MLB debate? Amazon, Prime, or both?  Which tie shall I wear on Sunday?  I’ve got that last one answered at least for the next two Sundays.  Stained glass and Mickey.

This coming Sunday, I will be wearing my stained glass tie.  Some of you at LPC may remember the stained glass tie.  At least one of you comments on it every time I wear it.  And yes, there’s a backstory, and that’s why I intend to wear it my second-to-last (virtual) Sunday at LPC.  You’ll see it in the video. Continue reading

June 12 – Of the Tossing of Many Books

Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.  – Ecclesiastes 12:12

The wisdom of the Preacher of Ecclesiastes has stood the test of time. I’m not sure I’ve always taken his advice, however, and as we prepare for our move, we are fully aware of the many books issue.  It seems of the tossing of many books there is no end.

With thanks to the Preacher for another phrase, there is a time to gather books into shelves and a time to cast away such books. We know what time it is. We might add that the tossing of many books has also been a time for weeping.

The issue is not really shelf space in the new house.  We’re moving most of our bookcases, and what is Ikea for, after all? The issue is that we don’t need all those books.  The keeping of too many books is a vanity, the Preacher might say. Striving after the wind.

So, we are tossing books.  It’s a heartless exercise, but necessary. So many books are like old friends, how do you decide who goes and who doesn’t? Continue reading

June 5 – But Does he Do Chairs?

July 1 will mark not only my first day of retirement, but the 45th anniversary of life in full-time ministry.  I have been thinking about those 45 years and the privilege I have had and the joys that have been mine. 
I guess I ought to thank Terry (not his real name).
First Presbyterian Church had hired Terry to be youth director a year or so earlier.  I had just graduated from the university and had decided to stay in town for another year or so as I decided what to do next.
It turns out that Terry was not a very good youth director, but I am not sure his ineffectiveness is what got him fired. 
It may have been what Terry said one night after a church dinner that got him fired. The dinner had been really well attended. We had used almost every folding table and chair in the fellowship hall. After the dinner was over, we did what church people do. We rolled up our sleeves and began to fold the chairs and stack the tables on those carts that never work as well as they are supposed to work. 
I remember the moment.  One of the church members, successful in life and humble in attitude, invited Terry to join all the others folding chairs and hauling tables.  That’s when he said it.  “I don’t do chairs,” he said. 
Of course, they didn’t fire Terry because he didn’t join the folding chair brigade that night after the church dinner.  But not doing tables and chairs pretty much said what needed to be said about Terry’s understanding of ministry.
So they fired Terry, and I was in town trying to decide what to do.  They offered me the job, and, well, 45 years later I guess we’ve heard the rest of the story to this point. 
I suppose I ought to thank Terry.  Had he grabbed a couple of folding chairs that night after the church dinner…
The soon to be retired pastor is supposed to keep his hands off the search for his successor. I think I’ve done pretty well so far.  But PSC, might I suggest just one interview question: “Do you do chairs?”
I hope I have done my share of tables and chairs over the years. If so, my count of chairs folded and tables hauled may be nearly as important as sermons preached and weddings officiated.  
Terry was not a very good youth director. They were wise to fire him.  But, thanks, Terry. I was in town asking myself what to do next and God used your not doing chairs to answer the question.  Continue reading