A colleague asked me last week “is this how you envisioned your retirement”? And, I thought — No! I may have anticipated or hoped for certain gatherings and conversations, and tears and laughter, along with sharing memories of our almost 30 years together, but a pandemic: never!
So, how does one retire during such a time? One option was, of course, to just postpone the date, and this was my initial thought. The more I considered this, however, and in conversations with Pastor Meyers, our staff, the personnel committee, my partner, and my spiritual director, I came to the decision that it made more sense for our beloved Seventh Avenue Community to stay with the posted date. But why, you might be wondering?
When I announced my retirement in the Fall, our Leadership Council appointed a Transition Team (which have been meeting, almost weekly) to plan for a smooth transition leading up to and through the end of May. Pastor Jenna Meyers also, earlier this year, negotiated with her other employer, The Center for Domestic Peace, to take a month leave from her duties there so she could focus full-time on you and the ministry here of Seventh Avenue. In weighing all these considerations, it felt more supportive for the congregation that we keep to the May 31st date.
To say that I’m disappointed that we haven’t been able to be together through Lent, Holy Week, and the Season of Easter would be an understatement. I am disappointed and sad, but I do look forward to when we can all be together again, hopefully July 26, when we can worship in our wonderful SAPC sanctuary and have a celebration that afternoon as we recall these past 30 years.
Serving as your Pastor, hands down, has been the greatest joy of my life! I shall miss our weekly liturgies and prayer, our Taizé services and retreats, our Perspectives and HomeComing, our laughter and dreaming and working together — in the name of Christ — more than you will ever know.
Over our decades together, you confided in me, sharing your longings, faith and questions. You have allowed me to baptize, marry and anoint you; to Celebrate Communion with you, to stand alongside you in your grief and your joys, and to hold your inner secrets. You have also accepted me when I made errors, supported me when I had successes, loved me through loss and celebrated with me new opportunities …. bottom-line: you have been family to me. This is what Christian Community is all about! For our shared lives together these past 3 decades, I give God, and you, heartfelt thanks.
You are in good hands as you move forward with Pastor Meyers, Luba Kravchenko, Michael Turner, Carolyn Foster, Jim Paul and our amazing Leadership Council. I know God will continue to do the work of Christ, and amazing things through all of you, and for this, my heart rejoices.
With a grateful heart,
The Rev. Jeffrey S. Gaines
We’re pleased to present the May issue of our
7 AveNews church newsletter.
It is packed full of important information and fun photos,
so be sure to check it out!
CLICK HERE to download a PDF copy!