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The pulpit at Shadyside Presbyterian in Pittsburgh. Some rights reserved by shadysidelantern.

Leaving and grieving

I just announced that I’ll be leaving the church I serve as a pastor because I have accepted another position. There’s a lot of shock and dismay. Some are angry. This is the third time I’ve said goodbye to a congregation. I should know how to do it by now, but I’m still overwhelmed by the emotional awkwardness of the breakup. I keep telling my parishioners, “It’s not you. It’s me.”

I have always resisted analogies that depict the pastor-congregation relationship as if it were a marriage. We pastors commit ourselves to serve the church, but our lifelong vow is to Jesus Christ. If we believe that Jesus is inviting us to work in another part of his kingdom, we have to go.


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