I hope you are all well.
I am writing this letter with the knowledge that this will be my last letter from the Manse that I write in my capacity as Interim moderator. I will be resigning at the end of March 2014 in order for the Nomination Committee to proceed with the calling of a new minister without any conflict of interest that may occur. I have enjoyed being your interim moderator. We have journeyed together over many challenging mountains, we saw beautiful sunsets and experienced together the faithfulness of our Lord and Saviour.
On the 26th of June 2011 I declared the congregations vacant and preached on Jeremiah 28:1-17 in the West Kirk. (In Polbeth Harwood I did not deliver this sermon because the JAM Club already arranged a special service of drama and song.)
I said in my introductory words the following:
“ I have only one task and that is to take care of you as best as I possibly can, spiritually, and pastorally. I have always felt that to be a minister you are called by God. It is not a job. It is a calling. And to me that was always the case and this is how I approach everything I do – including being your interim moderator. I also feel very strongly about a working relationship between you and I based on the principles of mutual respect, common decency, fairness, truth, integrity, professionalism and confidentiality. I am as you know from Johannesburg in South Africa and therefore you would find me strange in a lot of ways. I do not do gossip. I am a straight talker who calls a spade a shovel. I am not afraid of emotions – either talking about it or showing it. I am also someone who firmly believes in hard work.
My hope for you all is that you will not feel alone and without a minister. I will take care of you. I will walk with you and hold your hand when no one else will. I will cry with you with hope when others have given up hope. I will be your earthly shepherd spiritually leading you to the eternal kingdom of God! Please be reassured: I am available to help you in any pastoral or other capacity.
We do not know what the future holds. We do not know if the Vacancy Procedure Committee is going to allow you to call a minister, because as you all know all the procedures to call has been postponed.
We do not know how long it will be when you get your new minister...but we do know that the Lord God knows you and that He loves his church – you and me despite all our wrongs.
So let us move forward and trust the Lord. Let us all join hands in prayer and thank our Maker for always being there for us. Let us walk together to the future and forget the things that bothered us in the past. Let us sing together like the prophet Habakkuk (3:17-19) who once said:
“17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”
Now, looking back, we can all agree that indeed the Lord was good to all of us.
He looked after me as His called servant to your vacant charge;
giving me the strength to persevere in difficult situations;
granting me vision in times of uncertainty;
giving me love to love all unconditionally;
giving me faith when I started doubting;
indeed giving me feet to run over all the high mountains of uncertainty, challenge and strife.
He looked after each and everyone in the congregations.
He became a faithful Shepherd to us all;
giving the congregations new vision, new hope and new faith to stand up once again and be His church as He intended it ;
giving members the love of forgiveness and healing.
During the vacancy He called new people to come forward and take on responsibilities.
He initiated the Holiday club and blessed it in abundance.
He called more and more people to worship services.
He equipped elders to deal with serious pastoral issues.
He directed each and every member to live in a relationship with Him.
He ensured His servants were on the pulpit every Sunday and on special occasions.
He also provided in all the financial needs.
So as you face the future with new hope and new dreams, may you not forget your prophetic message to each and every one living in the Parishes - that we have a God in whom we can trust.
I thank all of you sincerely for all the support I have received, for all the cards of encouragement and for all the telephone calls and emails with offers to help.
Our journey together was a team effort and as I bid you farewell, I encourage you to support the new minister as you have supported me.
May God bless you and keep you safe in His loving arms!
All my best wishes for a blessed future,