Retirees were given the opportunity to reflect on their years of ministry. Read the reflections below by those who shared their thoughts.
When I began the journey into vocational ministry, I really thought I had an idea of where it was going to lead. I soon discovered, however, that the Spirit guides us into places and situations that one can simply not anticipate. This has been a journey full of wonder and surprise. I have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know many wonderful people. Having the honor of walking alongside them in times of joy and grief, discovery and growth has proved to be beyond my wildest expectations. It has been a blessing to serve in places I most likely would have never found myself under the circumstances of my teaching and counseling careers. It has been a time of growth and opportunity to live into a deep appreciation for the Divine and the wonder of God’s creation and creatures. Seeing God reflected in so many people has been a highlight of this leg of the journey. I will miss the challenges, joys and relationships that come with serving communities of faith. That being said however, I know this is just another crossroads and that the Spirit will be leading me into new and unfamiliar territory once again. I am looking forward to see what surprises wait for me around the bends ahead and have learned, if nothing else, that with the Divine one should always expect the unexpected. I am so grateful I have had the opportunity to take this journey. I am grateful to all those who have shared it with me and made it possible. Blessings to each and every place and person I’ve had the honor to serve and to serve alongside. May all continue to grow in grace and experience the peace that walking the Way with Jesus brings.
How do you put 28 years of ministry into 300 words or less? One of the things I look forward to in my retirement is having the time to reflect on all the multitude of experiences I’ve had in all the churches I’ve served.
To those I have served as your pastor: I want you to know that my heart is full of gratitude for each of you! It has been my humble privilege to walk alongside you as you shared your hopes, dreams, laughter and tears with me; and I with you.
To my friends and colleagues in ministry: what a ride it has been! I have great memories of meetings and gatherings that fed my soul and lifted my spirit. Thank you.
My plans are to retire to Hays, Kansas, to be near my youngest son and his family. I am excited to finally have the time to commit to being a grandma, mom and daughter. And I know God has something in store for me in this new chapter of my life.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -- Jeremiah 29:11
I have been blessed to serve God as a licensed local pastor for the past 10 years. Starting in July 2011, the members of Shelton, Nebraska, UMC welcomed me until my time there ended in June 2016. Shelton was a wonderful appointment. The people were exceedingly generous and nurtured me through the death of my husband, Mike. I will always have a place in my heart for the gracious and loving folks in Shelton.
July 2016 started my tenure at Kearney First UMC in Kearney, Nebraska, as associate pastor with Senior Pastor Alan Davis. What a learning experience Kearney First and Rev. Davis provided! Pastoring at that large a church was challenging and always provided solid experience in organization and time management. I learned early on that there was no time for fear or nerves--just prayer and faith that God would provide. I formed many warm and lasting friendships at Kearney First.
While at Kearney First I completed my Course of Study requirements at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Being diligent about ministering to people, along with being faithful to studies, was more than a challenge, it was an outstanding time of gaining wisdom, knowledge and setting priorities. The good folks at Kearney First supported me through those difficult times, especially when the studying got arduous and demanding.
COVID added new dynamics to ministry, not just in Kearney, but everywhere. It has been a privilege to have served two fantastic churches and to have been able to develop my gifts and graces to new levels. My thanks goes to Rev. Alan Davis, the congregations of Shelton and Kearney First, my family, my work family, and most of all to God, who through Jesus Christ has enabled me to be brought on toward perfection.
These 25-plus years have been an unexpected and unique journey, with its ups and downs, highs and lows. After three bishops, numerous district superintendents, 11 churches, and the changing of three conferences into one, I’ve learned a thing or two. One is to always say “thank you.” So thank you, Lord, and to all along The Way. The other is to keep it short. So I’ll say “Life isn’t fair, but it can be good, because God is good, all the time.” There is some deep theology there if you dare to “unpack it,” as professors used to say in seminary 30 years ago. God bless the Great Plains Conference and the UMC. God has blessed me and mine along The Way, and I pray will continue to do so.
I am so thankful to have been able to pastor among rural and smaller community churches during this season of life. It has been quite the adventure beginning with License to Preach classes in 1998.
Beginning in the United 4 Christ UM Parish (Brownell, Ransom, Arnold and Brownell) was so interesting as a first appointment in 1999. I am grateful for the many people who shared their faith, their joy and their heart for serving the Lord at work and church. COS classes at St. Paul's in KC and completing requirements at Fort Hays added to the variety in those early days of ministry. (Not that four distinctly different, but united churches were boring by any means!) It has been such a joy to continue several relationships throughout the past 20 years and to know the children's ministry in Ransom has continued.
When Bruce was asked to take the Healy UM Church, the churches and I were blessed to have a team of great and godly lay speakers rotate on Sundays so we could continue to serve together with one pastor.
In 2006 Rolla and Richfield UM Churches brought different experiences. These people, with their strong faith and love of God, were so supportive and understanding as our families went through several major changes. The strength of their characters and the history of their ancestors had toughened their faith during hard times and they were a great help in those days. What an inspiration they remain! I cherish the lessons learned and the people there.
When asked to move "east" in 2014 we weren't too sure what God had planned! But we have enjoyed working together again and with the people of the four churches in the Jerusalem Road Parish (Fancy Creek Zion, Swede Creek. Randolph & Leonardville). In December 2019 we added Keats and Riley churches to our group. and we look forward to serving all 6 congregations as God allows.
April 15 of this year marked our 25th anniversary as Kansans. It is the longest I have lived in any of the four states I have called home. We have a hard time thinking of any other state that we would call home because of the great relationships we have had through the years that welcomed me into their homes, their lives, and their hearts. So, although I am retiring on paper, I look forward to continuing part-time as we all serve the Lord together. In the midst of this ever-changing world, I remain eternally grateful that our God never changes! Thank you to all who have nurtured and continue to nurture my journey as clergy in the Great Plains Annual Conference.
I have had the honor to serve in both the Missouri Conference and Great Plains Conference for the past 11 years.
I walked humbly with others on our shared journeys as we studied, discerned, touched, and shared the wonder of God’s grace and love. As God’s praying and serving family, we often stretched our understanding and perceptions of our Living God: we sometimes even conquered paralyzing statements like “we have always done it this way” or “we have never done it that way.”
We facilitated opportunities, supports and presence for persons, churches and communities to discover their unique gifts and strengths, and to creatively use those strengths in service for God’s kingdom-making.
I was blessed to be part of many dedicated teams of persons who channeled God’s peace and hope to persons of all ages in the congregation, in the community, and beyond.
I cherished the curiosity and spiritual insights of young children! So often their insights helped keep me centered on the wonder and mystery of God.
I enjoyed the contagious energy and searching questions of adolescents! They enlivened me to focus on social justice realities and the call to accept and love all persons as children of God.
Walking beside adults in the stages and relationships of life has been a constant reminder of the celebrations and challenges of life and how God is “in” us ... “for” us ... “with” us ... in all seasons of our journey.
It has been a sacred gift to provide the ministry of presence to persons during life challenges, especially seasons of grief.
Whatever retirement is ... the journey with God continues ... the journey of spiritual awareness and renewal. God’s blessings to each of you and your place in God’s continuing story. Peace be with you ...
I was working for Kansas City Power & Light when I began to feel a sense of call to the ministry in 1999.
I attended Saint Paul School of Theology and continued working part time for KCPL as I explored that call in seminary. It has been my privilege to serve four churches in my 17 years as a second-career pastor: Madison UMC and Ebenezer UMC in the Kansas East Conference, Hutchinson Faith UMC in the Kansas West and Newton Salem UMC in the Great Plains Conference. I have served on the Kansas West, then GP Conference, BPHP the last six years.
It has been both challenging and fulfilling to serve churches during a period of rapidly changing culture and changing attitudes towards church. I am convinced the greatest challenge for the church is to discern how to be the church of the future. How do we relaunch church post-pandemic?
I Corinthians 3.6, 9 reminds us ministry is not about one person, but rather is a team effort, one planting a seed, another watering, God giving the growth. We are merely servants working together for God’s glory. I am thankful for my spouse, Raelene, supporting me in ministry, and for a long list of saints, who helped train me, teach me, lead me, and minister alongside me.
What a journey it has been. In 1994 I answered the call to full time ministry going from business owner/mechanic one month to lay pastor the next. I completed my education and Course of Study and was ordained deacon/associate member in the former Kansas West Conference. I found myself doing many things you never imagine when you sign on but finding God faithful to carry you through. As I look at my life before ministry, I see how God was preparing me for the call and I am grateful I answered, “Lord Send Me”. My wife Mary and I have been blessed to serve some wonderful congregations and communities. We served Jewell Trinity which became Jewell/Montrose 1994-2003, Plains/Kismet 2003-2007, Greensburg 2007-2018, Plains/Kismet 2018-2021. We look forward to a different pace and doing things we wish without changing plans for emergencies. We give thanks to God for the opportunity to serve and make known the Good News of Jesus Christ.
I think it was E. Stanley Jones that said, “Whatever gets your attention, gets you.” I hope that in some ways I have helped folks give their attention to Jesus and, in doing so, allowing Jesus to get them. I want to say thanks to the churches and people I have had the privilege of serving as pastor. I appreciate the friendships we have made over the years and appointments.
In retirement, we plan to spend more time seeing family, doing something different on weekends, traveling and camping, and still giving attention ourselves to Jesus and inviting others to do so too.
My name is Bill Williams. I have served as a local pastor in the Great Plains Conference for the last 10 years. I served in the Valentine-Cody-Kilgore parish for four years and the last six years in the Arnold, Anselmo, Merna parish. I became a pastor after a 40-year career in manufacturing administration and management.
I started my journey to serving God after my Walk to Emmaus weekend in July of 2004. I had been involved in Bible studies and other small groups but had not surrendered to God’s calling on me to truly serve others. The thing about that weekend that changed me was the overwhelming feeling of love expressed by others I had never met in their service for me and the other pilgrims.
I became a certified lay speaker and my wife and I served three churches as pastors for a five-month period from August through December of 2008. We agreed that if we missed being pastors, we would know God was calling us to pastoral ministry. We went back to our home church and it was great to be back for a couple weeks. Then we felt like something was missing.
My journey serving as a pastor the last 10 years has been a real blessing to me. I have met many people who I have become connected with through God’s love. I believe the best part has been seeing God working in the most unexpected places and times. I have learned that God works best when we listen to him and follow his directions and let Him work. I feel my best contribution has been just being present to others and letting them share their feelings. I look forward to what God has in store for me next.
I feel the Lord called me for this mission for this time. I have had the joy of weddings and baptisms, the sorrows of more funerals than I care to mention and of church closings and disaffiliation. I have written good sermons when I listened to God and bad ones when I did not. And the poor probably outweighs the good. And yet I have seen that in all circumstances, God is always Glorified more than anything I or the congregations have done. I have discovered that the less I did, the more God could work. There have been high points and low points, anxieties and fears yet God wins. Despite people’s interference, God will win and His untainted word will reign always.