Below is Rev. Wilson’s final email to the congregation in August 2013. May our church continue to help seekers grow closer to God and witness the living God’s healing presence in our world.
Several persons have asked me about what I think I will miss most now that I am retiring. The thought that immediately comes to mind is that I will no longer be able to officiate at the funerals of people I have come to know and love, and with whom I have shared our faith journey. I think that will be the most difficult thing for me to adjust to. It’s not that I don’t want to be there; it’s that I can’t. It is unethical for me to do so.
Looking back over 20 years of ministry with you has brought back a flood of wonderful memories of the things we have done, the times we have shared together. I can’t begin to mention all the highlights of things we have accomplished, or rather, that God has accomplished through us.
What I am most humbled by has been the rediscovery of the healing ministry. God has brought healing in a powerful way through those services of healing and the laying-on-of-hands. Looking back I can trace the step by step history of the events that emerged out of the synergy that developed between Julia Manners and myself, a collaboration that ultimately led us to Agnes Sanford and “the prayer of faith.” Sanford taught us how to connect with God and allow His healing, vibrant energy to work through us, and the results in this church were simply amazing.
Oh, and I need to mention near the top of my memory list are the transformations I witnessed in the lives of our teenagers as I served as a chaperone at 12 work camps. Time and again teenagers experienced a new relationship with God through the way our youth program is run in conjunction with the work camps.
Failures? Of course. I ask your forgiveness for the mistakes I have made. Looking back, I don’t believe we did a very good job together of practicing forgiving love. Sometimes feelings were hurt and harsh words were spoken, but without forgiving love no healing or reconciliation was able to take place. Some wounds simply remained unhealed. What is more basic to the Christian faith than God’s forgiving love for us? What is more basic to the Christian faith than our forgiving love of one another? I wish we had learned together how better to put God’s forgiving love into practice.
And I need to mention another possible failure, although the jury is still out on this one. Several persons have mentioned to me that the reason they are here in this church is because of me. I am sure they mean it as a sincere compliment. However, if people leave because I am retiring, then I will have failed. I will have failed to bring them into a deeper relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – for He is the reason we worship. He is the reason we surrender our lives and become part of the church, which is His body. It is our love for Him, and not any admiration for me, that sets us apart as a people of God.
Like most people I’m not much good at “goodbyes.” So let me just say thank you to all of you. Thank you for inviting me into your lives and for allowing me to share with you some deeply meaningful moments with you. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as your pastor.