Steven’s Gift

The email arrived on Thursday from Dick Firth, the Rector’s Warden.  We’re having a special meeting of the Vestry and the former Wardens at the church Sunday at 12:30pm—be there.

Everyone who got that message knew something was up, but everyone hoped it was not the announcement that Steven Strane delivered when we arrived at the meeting.

“I have decided to retire as Rector.”

The room was full of angst and love, trepidation and thanksgiving, respect and fear of the unknown.  For twenty-two years Steven Strane has been our pastor and confessor, our guide to the Gospels and our friend.  His unassuming style and consistency in creating a welcoming environment that infused all who passed over our doorstep with a sense of being home. We have all been infected by his vision for the parish, now the question is whether we will believe it—and live it, after he retires—or go in a new direction.

This message is not meant to sound like a eulogy or to be maudlin or even sad.

Steven’s choice is grace filled and his gift to St. Timothy’s in his departure is just as powerful as the one he gave us by his arrival.

St. Timothy’s has never been about me, I can hear him say, it has always been about what God is calling us to be together as a community of faith today and for the future.  And so now he has set before us a new challenge that is as powerful and timely as the one Jesus gave the disciples “to love each other as I have loved you.”

Steven’s gift is to force us to see our parish faith community anew, to reflect on our unbroken chain of faith, and imagine the possibilities God has in store for us.  By focusing on discerning what God is calling us to be for the next stage of our faith journey we learn that we can do it together, that we can call a new rector to lead our faith journey on a new adventure, and that God is with us always and knows the plan intended for our future if we will only listen and pray and be open to hear his call to us.

Our Vision 2020 process is now more important than ever since it represents the first part of the Call for Nominations in the selection process.  The Vision 2020 statement represents what the new “old guy or gal” will be getting into.  The greatest gift we can give both the old guy and the new guy is to do this vision thing well and truly so that we live into God’s purpose and make the next 22 years as great an experience as the last 22 years have been.

As we celebrate Steven’s ministry among us and send him off with our prayers and love, his gift to us will outweigh anything we can give him—he has given us permission to know God more nearly, to love Him more dearly and to follow Him more clearly through this new start on the next leg of our unbroken chain of faith.

We love you brother!

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