May 26, 1998
I want to share with all of you who have been supportive of me through this Internet page, a decision that I have made. The bishop and cabinet have acted in good faith in offering an appointment to me; however, I believe that, in the current climate in the Nebraska Conference, and with the continuing controversy related to my ministry at First United Methodist Church, Omaha, my presence in another church in Nebraska would only lead to a focus on me and not on the ministry that needs to happen in that church. It would not be fair to the congregation or to me.
I came to Omaha to serve First Church because I believed I could serve it with integrity and effectiveness. I felt that its vision of ministry and my commitments and abilities were compatible. Now that I am not allowed to remain at First Church, I believe taking a leave of absence is the right thing for me to do. I have not had adequate time to identify and consider other options for ministry.
I have also decided that June 7, 1998 will be my last Sunday at First Church, Omaha. Don Bredthauer, who has been an associate at First Church for the past ten years, will be appointed senior pastor at Annual Conference and will take over at that time. Leaving on June 7 will allow First Church to move on. Remaining only delays what needs to be done.
So, Chris, Natalia and I will be returning to North Carolina. We will spend the summer on Ocracoke Island, where we will be cleaning cottages and managing a boarding house for summer workers on the island. I will be using the time at Ocracoke to recover and reflect, and consider possibilities for future ministry.
I have no regrets for coming to First Church, or for any of the experience here. I believe it's all part of God's history, of the movement toward the just and compassionate community that Jesus announced and embodied. I'm glad for the opportunity to be a part of it. I am very proud of the congregation for its vision and faithfulness. It has been a blessing and will continue to be.
See also: United Methodist News Service article.
The photograph is courtesy of Jimmy Creech.