Pastor Jeremiah’s monthly article (taken from the May edition of The Chimes):
Pastor’s Reflections

On Monday morning April 8, I was at the doctor’s office.  As I was leaving I got a text from the District Superintendent, Rev. Young-Mee Park, she said she wanted to have dinner that evening, but couldn’t tell me why, she wanted to meet at 4:30, and she told me the incoming DS would be there as well.  I was very surprised, and more than a bit uncertain.  My surprise shifted to shock, when over dinner she told me why she’d wanted to meet.  She wanted to reappointment me to the Malta United Methodist Church. At this point I want to give you a bit of background.  Megan and I joyfully took appointments in our Northern Illinois Annual Conference in 2017.  We sought to move here because this conference lies between where our parents and sisters and their families live.  We especially wanted our children to be able to spend more time with their grandparents.  When the Northern Illinois Conference said they would appoint us, and bishop of our former conference said we could go, we were ecstatic.  In our time here, we’ve particularly gotten to spend much more time with Megan’s family both her parents, and our children’s only first cousin.  That has been a deep blessing.

However, the appointments they had for us were about an hour’s drive apart.  At first, we thought this would be okay.  But, in order for Megan to live out her calling as a pastor, and to be the pastor her churches needed, she had to be away from Sterling two nights a week, and be at her parish at least 3 days a week, plus Sundays, and often more days as well, that’s what ministry is like.  With Megan needing to be away, but the kids here in Sterling going to school, many things that needed to be done fell to me.

This juggling of the parenting duties, spending little time together as a family caused stress for us, strained our marriage, and was very difficult for Abiella and Owen.  So, we asked that should we be reappointed (in the United Methodist Church reappointment is always a possibility) we would be reappointed closer to each other so that our family could be under the same roof 7 nights a week. To my shock, Rev. Park asked me to take a new appointment that would be only 5 miles from one of Megan’s churches, and only a 20 minute drive from the other.  It would mean a salary cut, but it would totally change the dynamics of our family life and schedule.  I said I had to talk to Megan.  I went home the evening of April 8, and we had a prayerful conversation.  For the good of our family we believed this appointment would be a blessing.  We also believed that not having to have the travel times and the other complications that we would both be able to serve our appointments better, as we would in many ways have more time and flexibility to do so.  So, knowing we would leave dear friends behind, and beloved people at Wesley, we believed that God was offering us a great gift that could help our family be healthier and thrive.  In the end, I and my partner in life and ministry believed this appointment would help us be better parents, and better spouses to each other, and save our relationships with God family had to take priority over all other considerations. I know this move came as a shock to many of you, as it came to me.  I know that transition is never totally smooth, and Wesley has had many transitions.  I am in prayer for those making the next appointment here, and for all of you.  I seek to leave things in the best possible place for whoever follows me.  I am deeply grateful to God and to Wesley for the love shown to our family, for the opportunity to be in ministry here, for the deep profound moments of worship together, for times in small groups, for the funny stories, for the little blessings like a great recipe for cucumber salad.  I have been blessed to live her in the Sauk Valley, and I will miss some amazing colleagues in ministry, inspiring community leaders, the beauty of the river, and the pelicans.  So many wonderful blessings here! So in this time of transition until my time here is done on June 30, and my successor starts on July 1, let us be in prayer for the Holy Spirit to guide the process, so that a good match can be found and Wesley can move into the future to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of our world. In Christ,

Pastor Jeremiah