Say Goodbye Well
by Kathye Hamm
Eight years and 14 days ago, I began my call to serve as Bishop’s Associate for the Sierra Pacific Synod, and what a ride it has been! As is so often the case when one has been through a thoroughly life-altering period of time, my attempts to put into words all the ways this call has impacted me have each come up short. One of the first pieces of advice I learned to offer congregations whose pastors were leaving was “Say goodbye well”. The best I can do is to try to take my own advice as I leave this call.
First I say goodbye to all the congregations who have honored me by allowing me into their communal lives. Similar to the way we invite pastors into our lives at pivotal moments, or transitions, or tragedies or celebrations, so too, I have been invited into conversations that were honest, vulnerable, tragic or joyous. Thank you.
Second I say goodbye to gifted, committed, spirit-filled lay leaders. What an example you have provided me of what it means to live out one’s vocation, sharing in the priesthood of all believers and inspiring me to keep on keeping on at the times I’ve most needed that encouragement. Thank you.
My next goodbye is to my amazing colleagues. You have allowed me to walk with you through parts of your lives and ministries, the good ones and the really hard ones. You have taken me into your confidence, sought my guidance, requested my prayers, and engaged me in serious dialogue and occasional silliness. You have prayed for me, worried topiramate 25mg about me, blessed me, and scolded me. Thank you.
Finally, I say goodbye to the most amazing partners in ministry I could ever hope to have in my life. There is no other bishop I could have done this work with (no offense to all my bishop friends out there, but it’s true) and perhaps even truer is that there is no bishop who would have worked with me in the way ours was willing to. The ways we have worked together have been a gift in my life.
There have been a remarkable number of iterations of our staff (one of the bigger challenges, from my perspective) and to name everyone ends up being kind of a silly litany. But I do need to say that I am extremely grateful for having had the opportunity to work with both Katy and Laurie, both of whom have reminded me regularly of what a joy it is to work with faith-filled, humorous and patient women. Thank you.
I am not the person I was when I started and in most ways, that is a good thing (I think). This has been the hardest job I have ever had – the most challenging call I have ever served. I am grateful for that blessing and equally grateful for the opportunity to now see what my mischievous God has in store for me next.
As I prepare to step away I offer some wise words I once read: “Dance like no one is watching; email like it may one day be read aloud….”
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