A Charge to the Congregation

This is the text of the charge Dr. Bush gave at the conclusion of worship today (and an audio file for listening and downloading is here):

“There are several things I want to say to you on my last Sunday with you.

“The first is a word of gratitude. The Apostle Paul puts it very well in his greeting to the church at Philippi: ‘I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, thankful for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.’

“I thank God for you, and also I thank you yourselves for these two-plus years of partnership in the gospel. You are a hard group of people to leave.

“You are a stronger church than perhaps some of you believe. You have proven that again and again during this time, through the ministry you engage in within this community and beyond, through your generosity, and through your perseverance. You look around the room here and you realize there are fewer of you now than some of you remember, and that can be discouraging. But some things are better weighed than counted, and you are a substantial church with a significant and expanding ministry. Please remember that.

“The second thing I’d like to say is that every relationship is imperfect, and while ours has been wonderful in countless ways, there are also things I could have done and didn’t, things that I should have done better than I did, things I should have done otherwise than I did, and things you wish I had done differently even when I thought I wasn’t wrong. And on the other hand there have been a few times when I have wished for you to have done otherwise than you have. I want to ask for your forgiveness, and offer you mine.

“The third thing I need to leave you with is a bit of housekeeping, and even though it touches an open wound this week, I still have to say it. Please, in the future, do not ask me to come back to participate in things like funerals and weddings. I will have to decline, and that will be hard for both of us. So I’m declining now, not out of any lack of love or care for you, but because the new pastor you will soon call deserves not to have my relationship with you hovering in the background. Please give your new pastor the opportunity to build that kind of relationship with you. I will do all I can to stay out of the way of that happening.

“And finally I have a bit of good news to share with you: As you know, the “Serving on the Square” Capital Campaign and the renovations you’ve done to your facilities, and the renewed energy for mission that has brought about is our most obvious signature achievement together these last two years. Many of you didn’t think you could do it, and I was sure you could, and I couldn’t be more proud that you did. In the course of the renovation work it turned out that there were some inevitable holes in the plan, and so we’ve had to spend a bit more than we planned. Today I’m pleased to announce that a family has come forward to make up that entire difference between what was pledged and what we’ve spent. So when all the pledges are paid, the entire program will be funded without you being burdened with any debt. So thank you to all of you for your generosity, and thank you also to those unnamed donors who have taken this additional, generous step, and for doing it in time for me to have the privilege of announcing it.

“Go in peace, and serve the Lord.”