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A Message from the Senior Pastor: This week our Pastor’s Pen and Beloved Letter come to us from our Associate Pastor Rachel Bahr. We’re both grateful to serve this Beloved community, even as our lives and the world around us changes. Our faith, our love for God and one another remains constant. Here then is a word from Pastor Rachel. God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you, and with Pastor Rachel, and with all God’s people, wherever gathered.

Pastor Verlee

Going Home from Pastor Rachel Bahr

Mark 6.1-6

“He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, "Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, "Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house." And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.”

Some of you may know what this feels like, when you return home, to see family, to an old church and you are saying things that shake things up and seeing people are clearly uncomfortable.

In our text, Jesus is challenging the status-quo, the forces that maintain that some folks have more worth or value than others. Jesus is challenging who’s in and who’s out, in his own hometown. Jesus is communicating God’s Vision of Wholeness. We’re not leaving anyone out!

This revolution Jesus is calling for, is one that he knows folks will run from, it terrifies them, and yet he begins in his hometown. Where he had the greatest potential for criticism, and folks questioning his identity. The text says the people took offense at what he was saying, and Jesus didn’t perform deeds of power. How can a carpenter perform miracles?

People who know us, who knew us from our youth, are the hardest, they want to keep us as we were, safer that way.

I can empathize with Jesus. Prophets are never welcomed in their hometown.

Prayer: God may we listen to where you are leading us. Amen.

January 27, 2016

Beloved,

With this letter I formally tender my resignation as Associate Pastor of First Parish Congregational Church, United Church of Christ and give my notice. Pastor Verlee A. Copeland and church leadership and I are in discussion as to when my last day will be and will communicate this shortly.

First Parish Church, York has been my family’s home over the last two years, and we’ve grown together through some difficult challenges. It has been an honor and privilege to serve as your pastor and I am deeply grateful for the ways many of you have embraced my family and supported my leadership. Many of you have welcomed me into your homes and families and trusted me with the tender moments of life. Together we have laughed and prayed, worshipped and served. I love this church and its people.

I am aware that this news may come as a surprise; it was somewhat unexpected for me too. Because of my work with the larger United Church of Christ I became aware of a position that opened and when approached I felt the Holy Spirit’s presence and guidance. Even as I accept this new call with joy, I am sad to be leaving you. I also trust that God is calling me in a new direction.

One of the calls of ministry is to be in a place where our gifts are well received and we are able to bring our wholes selves to our work. It is clear God is calling me to a place where I can flourish in these ways. And I have full faith that First Parish Church UCC will continue to be the loving, caring and faithful congregation I know it to be.

I will continue to serve as Associate Pastor until my agreed upon departure and am committed to working with you during this time of transition and ensuring that the church and all its members are well cared for. You also have the full support of the Maine Conference. The Rev. Deborah Blood, Maine Conference Minister, is ready to meet with you and will walk you through the process of finding new staff.

It has been a pleasure to work with you, individually and as a whole. I am grateful for your commitment to First Parish Church UCC and grateful for your leadership during this time.

I hope that even as I move on, that I can always consider First Parish Church home.

With Peace,

Pastor Rachel