Late last fall, I told my current congregation that I would be leaving at the end of August. Erik and I had decided that we could handle 2 kids and 2 jobs, but not if one of those jobs involved a long commute (that would be Erik’s job with its close to three hours of commute time each day). (Here’s a link to the long-version letter to the congregation explaining that decision.)
This has been a move in stages. Normally, pastors in my denomination search for a new call, get one, announce this to their current congregation, and begin the work of leaving, usually within a few months.
Our process, for a variety of reasons, could’t work this way. We had to start the work of searching for a new place and dealing with the questions around school for Zora (a complicated process in Chicago) last winter. We knew there were enough small-world connections between my church in Geneva and people we knew in Chicago that there was no way to do this secretly for months. And, my church has had an interesting year (2 sabbaticals and a family leave) in terms of staffing.
We moved to Chicago in June. Since then, I’ve been commuting back to Geneva 3 weekdays with my kiddos in tow since their childcare is out there; working from home other days; and, of course, commuting with Erik and the kids on Sundays. Except, of course, for the weeks when I had youth group trips; or Bible School; or vacation time.
And now I have less than 2 weeks left. And the long goodbye is almost over and it is brutal. These leave-takings were one of the reasons I would have preferred NOT to go into ministry. I hate leaving people and places.
I’m keeping my ears open for ministry opportunities closer to our new home, but so far there’s nothing lined up. And, in all honesty, I think I need at least a month to get Zora rolling in kindergarten; have conversations with Abram about things other than sermons and mission trip plans; really truly finish unpacking the house (large portions of our life are still in boxes); get some household matters in order; start exercising regularly; and to wean my poor family from the diet of fast food that has become an inevitable part of our ridiculous schedule. There is lots of bulgar wheat in our future, I think.
There are so many things I wish I could write about this transition, as well, but it has to wait because there is so much to do. Final sermons; packing my office; a long list of final to-dos; saying goodbye.
All of this a perfect illustration, of course, of one of the great realities of ministry (and life in general): there is never enough time.