A Message from Pastor Rusty
Dear Family of God
Let me share the words to an old hymn that you may never have heard before (just kidding!) called…”Amazing Grace”. The third verse says, “Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come, Tis grace hath brought me safe this far, and grace will lead me home.” As I look back over the past 27 years that I have been pastor here at Center Chapel and to this community, my life has been blessed. I feel honored to have served people through “dangers, toils, and snares”, but also through beautiful, life changing moments…and we have experienced God’s “amazing grace” together!! I LOVE MY CHURCH FAMILY!!
I’m writing this letter to tell you that God has other plans for my life at this time. Due to health issues, I have been granted a medical leave. After serving others over the past 40 years, I must now take care of myself. I know my body needs healing physically, mentally, and emotionally. After consultation with my doctors, they have recommended that I take this action. Joyce and I discussed and prayed for God’s direction on this decision, and we absolutely believe this is God’s plan for our lives. After discussions with our District Superintendent, the United Methodist Cabinet, and evaluation and the prayer of our Bishop, they approved my going on this medical leave.
What does this mean? For me, it means I agree to letting go of my responsibilities of ministering to others and to seek healing and wellness for the rest of my journey of life. For my church family here at Center Chapel it means…God has finished my ministry with you as your pastor, God is getting Center Chapel ready for something “amazing” and to continue His plans for our church, I will NOT be able to perform funerals, weddings, counseling, or any services for our community or church (that seems harsh, but it is to help keep me focused on my health), and I will not be able to worship with you ~ but I will prayer for you…and ask that you would pray for me and my family.
There is NO WAY I can express in words how thankful I am to have been given the opportunity to serve with you all these years…27…that’s almost unheard of in the United Methodist Church system! I served at Dunkirk Bethel 5 years, Huntington Trinity 3 years, Fowler 5 years, 27 years at Center Chapel…that’s about 9,855 days!!! And every day ~ the good and the bad ~ God has been faithful to us.
This medical leave could last up to 24 months. Then, whenever the doctors and Conference deem I’m ready to go back to work, I can be appointed some other place of service, or I could go into retirement. I am not looking that far ahead. I’m taking it “one day at a time”. That’s all we have.
I will never forget you ~ and I will always thank God for you and your amazing ministry to me and my family. My prayers for you is to be faithful to God and to our church family. Sometimes when pastor’s change, people “jump ship” and go somewhere else. Please hear my heart on this ~ the greatest disservice and grief you could do to me would be to leave our church family and everything I tried to build up over these last 27 years. Don’t subtract from the family ~ multiply it and grow stronger and fulfill God’s plan for our church and our community.
Well, I don’t do “good bye’s” ~~ I do “see ya’s”… and I will see you again…if not on this earth…when we get Home in Heaven!! Oh yes, remember that song…”Amazing Grace”…the last verse say’s it best…“When we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the Son, we’ve no less days, to sing God’s praise, then when we’ve first begun.” (27 years is just a drop in the bucket compared to eternity).
I Love You,
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