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.