We are currently in transition, having said farewell to Jonathan Hauze, our pastor of 17 years, on October 17, 2021. Jonathan has been called to a UCC congregation in Vermont, not far from where he and his wife Liza grew up in New Hampshire. And we enter the UCC search and call process, confident that even now God is preparing our next pastor to be our partner in ministry. Our transition team is working to secure an interim minister to help guide us through this process.
A Letter from Pastor Jonathan - October 2021
“Friendship is a sheltering tree.” -Coleridge, Youth & Age
“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing.” -E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
When we moved south to make our home here in 2004, I remember being disappointed that the RMV was no longer issuing the “You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania” license plates. Those were always my favorite. But no matter. In a very short time, I would have something much better than a slogan. Not one friend but many, an entire beloved community with whom to share the sorrow and sweetness of life, the costs and joys of discipleship. We have traveled far together, and our journey will remain with me for the rest of my life. I will never forget the blessings that I have known in your company. I can only say: Thanks be to God!
One of my favorite scriptures relates the story of Jesus telling his disciples that they shouldn’t think of themselves as his students or servants any longer. “I have called you friends,” Jesus says. It gives me joy to think that God has befriended us, that our human friendships can become a place where we experience the presence of the Christ, that when we call each other friends, we become Christ to each other. I want to thank you for being Christ to me, and for allowing me to minister the grace of Christ to you for the past 17 years.
As the end of my pastorate here nears, it’s hard but important to consider how our relationship will be changing. While I will ever remain your friend, and hold you in my prayers, I will no longer be able to serve you as your pastor. I will no longer be able to perform pastoral services for you or to provide spiritual guidance. To help establish the boundaries of this new relationship, I will need to completely separate myself for a time – so that you can focus on establishing a relationship with your new pastor, and so that I can do likewise in Vermont. When we do come to correspond again, I will faithfully refrain from talking with you about church matters, and I trust that you will do the same. Nothing will bring me greater joy than knowing, in what remains unspoken, that you are embracing the vision and leadership of your new pastor.
Byron wrote that “all farewells should be sudden,” which seemed unnecessarily harsh to me until I had to experience the emotions that come with saying goodbye to people that I have loved for so long. I will miss you all dearly, but the overwhelming feeling as I look back over these many years is gratitude. I am grateful to you, and grateful to God, for the honor of being your pastor. Love makes leaving hard, but it helps to remember that the One who gives love will not fail to guide and bless each of us in our parting. God bless you and keep you, always.