Dear Bethesda Family,
Following on the news I shared just the other day about my resignation and new call, I bring news that Father Burl has also accepted a new call. I want him to share this exciting news himself in the note below.
Before reading that, though, I simply want to assure everyone that we did not plan or desire for our transitions to coincide and that we are providing this information in as timely a manner as we are able. We are not permitted to announce these calls until the several bishops involved have given their approval to do so.
I also want to assure you that this is far from unprecedented. Parishes go through times of transition as a normal part of life, and, while they certainly bring a level of anxiety, the Church knows how to navigate this. The Bishop and his staff are already actively engaged in the process of caring for this parish family, and your vestry is beautifully equipped for such a time as this. In fact, the vestry and the Bishop are meeting tomorrow to continue building a great working relationship and charting the right course forward.
Your wardens also have a note just below Father Burl’s that you will want to read regarding this news.
Leave-taking is certainly bittersweet. It is also an integral and important part of parish life. We will best experience the loving presence of God during this time by embracing all of the feelings of grief, joy, and hope that flow from this double helping of unexpected news and by simply delighting in the time we are together so that we can see clearly the grace of God at work among us.
Please join us at a reception to bid Fr. Burl and Bob farewell following the 10AM service on 30 May.
It is with grateful heart for a season of ministry at Bethesda-by-the-Sea that I write to say I have accepted a call to be the Rector of The Falls Church in the eponymous Northern Virginia city and thereby tender my resignation as Associate for Christian Formation, Pastoral Care, and Outreach. My last Sunday at Bethesda will be 30 May, and I begin my duties in Falls Church on 1 July.
It has been an honor to serve, first as an assistant and then as an associate, at Bethesda, and I have grown to love this place and her people deeply. You have allowed me to walk alongside you for these six years, teaching, preaching, praying, blessing, listening, and loving, and I shall be forever grateful for that humbling privilege. You have cared for and accepted Bob and me, and we have grown together as priest and parish. You have challenged me, and I have challenged you. You have invited me into your lives and into your hearts; you have allowed me to baptize your babies, marry you, and bury your loved ones. You have opened your hands to me at the communion rail, and I have been humbled to place Jesus in those outstretched hands. You have taught me much, and I have much left to learn.
Bob and I look forward to this next chapter of our ministry in the Church and are excited about the possibilities that lay ahead at The Falls Church. Founded in 1734 and counting George Mason and George Washington as early vestrymen, The Falls Church is a beacon of Jesus’ light and love that has survived wars, periods of neglect, and schism, to be a vibrant and grace-filled community dedicated to living out the Baptismal Covenant in word and deed. Guided by the Holy Spirit, their search for a rector has been thoughtful and prayerful, and I am thrilled to be called to lead that community as we seek to build the Kingdom of God together.
As we are able, we cherish the opportunity to say goodbye in the coming weeks and acknowledge that farewells in a pandemic world are limited. Know that I hold each member of this parish in my heart and in prayers for the sacred community that exists here, with anticipation for the good works that will continue to bear fruit in this holy place. Thank you for our time together.
On behalf of the vestry, we send our heartfelt congratulations to Father Burl on this next step in his career. We have been discussing this change with Father James as we knew that after his impactful years of ministry as an associate, Father Burl would inevitably be called to lead his own congregation.
Father Burl has touched so many lives with his special compassion, care, and wisdom. He connected so deeply with all of us, and we all know that his next congregation will be blessed more than they know. We will miss him dearly while we also know that our associates have begun to assume his roles as seamlessly as possible.
One sign of a healthy, vibrant church is the promotion of its clergy and staff to positions of greater influence and impact. This past week we have witnessed the national leadership of the Episcopal church recognize the extraordinary talent within Bethesda through the calling of both Fathers Burl and James to extend their ministerial gifts to others.
We have been so blessed and encourage everyone to find some way before the end of this month to thank Father Burl for his love of and service to our church family.
With deep gratitude,