Dear beloved sisters and brothers in Christ,

God be with you.  That’s what it means, you know, good bye is really a contraction of God be with you.  And that is my hope for you all – and for me, too!  Try as I might, and procrastinate as I have, the time has now arrived for writing these words of God be with you.

These are exciting times at Christus Victor; a call for a new associate pastor, an ordination in this place, new relationships to build, and new energy; the Holy Spirit is loose in this place, and you might want to watch for the movement you are called to be part of.  And I am excited for you.  This congregation’s potential is enormous, and while you already make an amazing difference in many people’s lives, (Ask any other congregation if they have 57% of their senior high youth active and involved in their congregation, or how many meals they helped pack for starving children in February or whether they have a multi-language Bible study happening regularly in their space, or how intergenerational relationships between disciples are being built), the possibilities of what God may yet do among you are more than you can dream.  But being willing to dream with God is opening yourselves up to new things.  And new things can be scary.  The Chinese picture symbol for change combines the symbols for crisis and opportunity.  In God’s abundance, however, I believe that the possible crises will be small and the opportunities big!  Getting used to doing things in new ways can be uncomfortable, but it can also stretch us in ways that can be really good for us.  May you change & grow into the people of God that God wants you to be!

God be with you.  Some of you will be sad at my leaving, even as excited as you are for Steve to come Interim pastors usually leave; my work is complete when your new pastor is installed, though I’ll be leaving before that time.  (My last day with you is the 15th of March, and my last Sunday with you is the March 2nd, (maybe even before the newsletter is published, if I keep stalling with this article!)  I will be sad, too.  I have come to love this congregation, and the ministry God has blessed us to do here.  And working with this staff and so many of you has been a delight!  And I trust that God will have more ministry for me to do, too.  (Already know I am preaching 9 Sundays in the next 5 months, plus 1 Wednesday & a wedding.)  (And I get to work with Summer Stretch at Oak Grove again this summer.)

Some have asked if I will continue to worship here?  No, I have a home church in Oak Grove, and Jim & I will probably be worshipping there except for the Sundays I’m preaching somewhere else.  Usually, an interim pastor leaves a congregation pretty fully, so that the new pastor can make that role their own, and so you can grow to love & trust Steve as your pastor.  I won’t be your pastor anymore, and in fact, if you come to the farewell service on 3/15, there is actually a “litany of release,” after which I won’t refer to myself in relation to you as Pastor Mary Kaye, but just Mary Kaye.  And I release you into the capable pastoral care of Pr. Kent and (pastor to be) Steve.

One of our senior high students said, “Can I still invite you to my graduation party?”  The short answer is yes, you may invite.  You may invite me to weddings, funerals, baptisms, or parties.  But I will sit in the pew and watch whatever is happening; I won’t be among those leading.  Whether I come or not has probably more to do with whatever else I’m doing than whether I would like to celebrate or mourn with you, but even if I come, I don’t come as your pastor.  Just someone else who cares about you.  But present or absent, I will care about you, and you will often be in my prayers.

Some have asked what will I be doing?  The Saint Paul Area Synod has offered my name for another call, but we’ll see what happens with that.  A friend in the Northwestern Wisconsin Synod has also asked that my name be in a call process there.  God has not yet revealed what I will be doing, but I trust in the God who calls.  For a while, I may be doing a lot of teaching, especially as a substitute, and also my own classes in Early Childhood Family Education.  And those 11 sermons I’ve already committed to.  And I will be the pastor on call for 2 congregations while their pastors are out of the country for 7 weeks, so if there are visits to be made in their absence, I will do that.  It looks like I’ll find ways to stay out of trouble.   When there’s good news to be shared about a new call, I promise you’ll know.  But asking more often won’t make it go faster, and we know how long a call process can take, don’t we?

A few have asked if my office will be cleaned out by my last day? J I’ve promised Pr. Kent that it will be, and he trusts me; I think you should trust that, too.

Is there anything else you can do to support me in this transition?  Yup!  Be faithful in prayer, for me and for you, kind to those around you, patient with those who press you for your best, and seek God’s will in our lives collectively.  Let God stir up passion in you to study God’s word, and to spend time listening for God’s voice.  If some of you think to tell me you’re praying for me, that would do me a ton of good, too.  And if you want to talk before I go, let me know. I have some open time.  And – I’ve been on the receiving end of a couple of unexpected hugs recently; not unwelcome, just unexpected.  Thank you.  Oh, and please join us if you can for the farewell service.  The music will be great; there will be 2 preachers J and Nate Houge is coming to help with some of the music; you don’t want to miss that!

Anything else? Remember I said one of the gifts I wanted to give to Steve was to have the Faith Trek staff totally filled by my leaving?  Rotation 6, March 16- April 13, the story is the Woman at the well; we have 3 places remaining for you to offer to serve; Church Mouse teacher and asst., and Praise Him Playhouse teacher.  Here’s the link;; let me know if you need help signing up.  And it is a few weeks until I go, so we begin Lent together, and then we release each other towards Easter – please join us for all the faith-growing opportunities you can.

In God’s grasp, as you are, Pr. Mary Kaye