Dear friends and partners in ministry,
I have truly enjoyed my time at Aldersgate UMC. It was six short years ago that my family moved back to Iowa. I remember being welcomed into the lives of those at Aldersgate UMC with open hearts and open doors. As my wife wrote last week, you as a church have welcomed my family to be part of the family of the church. We have seen children grow, the birth of Isabelle our second child, and have celebrated life together. I know you have prayed for my family and me to find goodness—I have felt God’s spirit upon me in and through your grace-filled interactions. I also hope you know that I have prayed for each of you. Leaving is always bittersweet, this is what it means to be in authentic community with each other. When we live into the relationships built in community, it is hard to leave because we know things will not be the same in the future; however, we leave with a piece of the other. Through the kind words that you have shared, the prayers you have given, the strength of someone to rely on for support, and the many moments of joy we have been made stronger. We are marked moments with each other. My heart will forever be marked by the beauty of Aldersgate UMC. Our congregation is one of hospitality and graciousness. I truly believe the church, and Aldersgate UMC particularly is a place where God is transforming the world around us.
There are many aspects of our church which have brought me joy over the years. I thank you for these cherished moments: when seasoned members took moments to share Aldersgate’s history of invitation and welcome which helped build the church—this is the future of our church one of active invitation. It warms my heart to hear the early efforts of Aldersgate to invite others through phone calls, door-to-door visits, and dropping off freshly baked bread to those who visited. This is what facilitated a stronger church.
I cherish Aldersgate’s ability to move with the Holy Spirit and a reliance on God for strength. Built into the church building are symbols of God’s changing seasons. Seasons of growth, nurturing, planting and harvesting, and seasons of maintaining. You have a strong desire to be deeply connected with God and others in a relationship. You are an open church which welcomes others to use their gifts for the betterment of the world.
I cherish the moments when Aldersgate UMC has gone out of its way to care for the poor, those in need, and the outcast. You as a church have advocated for the health of others and stood beside those who are in need of a friend. I thank you for inviting me into the life of your church, which continues to be a place of hope for the poor. All of these have impacted my heart. I thank you Aldersgate UMC for displaying what it means to be the church. I will carry these good moments with me always and everywhere.
As I leave Aldersgate UMC, my heart yearns for many more seasons with you, knowing that at this time, God has other things in store. It is time for me to move to another place to see where Jesus is moving and shaking. Some might wonder “why” and not understand the strange thing that we UMC clergy are ordained into. We give our hearts and lives over to being moved at any point by the Bishop and appointed cabinet. They seek the guidance of God to make these moves. We, as clergy, trust God in these moves. It is hard to move, but I leave knowing my time at Aldersgate has been a blessed one. I thank you all for the moments we have shared together!
I look forward to hearing the many stories of God’s work in and through your congregation. As I go I leave you with this blessing from 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “May God Almighty, God of peace, sanctify you (make you Holy) through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless until our final days.”
- Pastor Jon Bailey