Category: leaving

Strange Place

Strange being in this “in-between” place where we have made another big decision to change the course of our lives by taking a Call to another community 3000km’s away from where we have been serving for 8 years.

This kind of decision is nothing new to us or many people from many different walks of life. Half the people I know have made these huge decisions – people like the many South Africans or Zimbabweans who have left their home country to make a new life in Australia; or the many teaching staff who have left their home to come and work in Dalyellup, or the many rural people who long ago, packed up the truck and drove the long Nullarbor road a generation ago to settle on virgin land in the WA wheat belt…… Sometimes life and living it with a responsiveness to people, church, country and God demands these big decisions that bring big change.

This is the second time that my wife and I have packed up our lives and moved away from our home country to South Australia. The first time was in 1989. Now 22 years later, we are doing the very same thing! Then we were a young married couple. I was ready for adventure and Leanne was rather more unconvinced about “adventure”. But, she came and we went and the rest is history.

Now we leave with three of our four children in tow a little more money and better furniture and a joint will to live the next chapter of our lives.

Similar doubt about our ability to cope and do well appear. I left WA in 1989 to take up a youth worker job in a large inner city Lutheran Church (Bethlehem, Flinders Street, Adelaide CBD). I had little idea of what I was walking in to! Such a different church culture and experience. So large compared to the smallness of WA (church wise). So many more people, some supportive, some not. So many more opportunities for friendship, seeing new places, learning more about my profession (Youth Work)….

After 12 years in two places “out on the rim” of the LCA (Auckland and Bunbury), it feels a little similar to what it felt like back in 1989. So many opportunities for new relationships, new challenges in terms of my Calling, more possibilities for learning from mentors and strangers…..

This Calling is a senior pastor role and that is daunting. It is a new dynamic I will have to learn – not just diving in and leading by doing all the time, as one needs to do in a  smaller setting, but leading in a different way – present but not always immediately hands on; leading by gathering and inspiring (hopefully!) and working with others who lead…… It will be a steep learning curve to not go with the instincts learnt over the last 12 years in the ordained ministry.

But life is really one big steep learning curve isn’t it? You actually learn the most about yourself, your close relationships, when you are under the pump the most. In the moment you don’t even know what you are learning, but later it becomes apparent, if you take the needed time to reflect on what has happened, that is.

So, I find myself doing plenty of this reflecting time. It just seems the right thing to do.

Pastor A Leaving Ocean Forest

Well, it seems that our time at Ocean Forest has come to an end. There is sadness but no regret and a looking forward toi the next leg of the faith jounrye for us as a family.

In the Lutheran Church, there is a Call system where Pastors don;t apply for jobs but are Called to them by the local community or wider church. When a local community is vacant or is ready to call a second pastor, they issue a Call to a particular individual whom they think can come and work with them in their local ministry and mission. The Pastor being Called is notified of this and then has around 4-5 weeks to weigh up all the issues of his existing Call and the one being offered. He then accepots the Call or declines it.

After two months of very intense personal struggle for me, my family and for some of you about the two Calls that have come my way – first to Tuggeranong in Canberra and now to St Petri in the Barossa Valley, SA, – I am accepting the Call to the St Petri. I will be leaving Ocean Forest at the end of the year.

I know that some of you will find this unwelcome news. We will all now go through a tough time of loss and grieving. We have shared our lives together for these 8 years and our relationships will change.

I am accepting the Call to St Petri not beause I am unhappy or unwell or angry or worn out or any of those things. I am accepting the Call and leaving primarily because I believe it is a Call from God. That is always the main thing in all the complexity of these decisions. It is also because I sense that I have done what we were called here to do – to establish a church in cooperation with e new Lutheran college. It is time for me to go and let the local people and another Lutheran Pastor  and the School Principal take the baton and run on.

Just as I sensed that I was ready and “made for” this venture of church planting through a new Lutheran school when I received the Call to come here in 2003, so now I sense the same things about what the Lord is calling me to do at St Petri. I sense that he is has been preparing me for this next leg of the faith journey these eight years at Ocean Forest and now it is time to take what he has taught me through you and put it to use in his church in another place.

I will leave with great memories, great relationships with all kinds of people, some more skills and more experience and take on the next challenge with these as part of who I am and what I am called to do. I think you for your friendship, commitment, care, humour and encouragement over the journey. I am praying to the Lord that he helps Ocean Forest kick on in this challenging thing called Christian education, community and mission.

Please feel free to seek me out and talk about how things are for you and share these things with each other too. In the end any sadness will hopefully turn to thankfulness to God for the many things that have happened in this 8 year journey together.