At the recent memorial service for Joan & Jim Goepfert, I was tasked with describing how their lives were inextricably woven into the history of Prince of Peace. As Charter Members, joining during the first year of the church’s ministry in 1957-58, Joan & Jim lived faithfully to support the work of this church and the people who comprised it throughout its 64 years. One thing that Pastors Betsy, Ruth and I share with every pastor that has ever served Prince of Peace, is that we all had the privilege to have been called “Pastor” by Joan & Jim.
Serving here is a privilege for so many reasons, most of them the inevitable result of being in a place where God’s activity is made manifest in and through the lives of remarkable people, like Joan & Jim. And people like you. Over its history, Prince of Peace has had thousands of members. As a result, God’s activity in this place has looked different over time. There were stretches when this place was literally bursting at the seams with Sunday School children, there were times when new partnerships were formed on the other side of the world, and there were times when great discord forced something new to be formed in its wake. Members have come and gone. But God has remained. And God keeps accomplishing new and wonderful things among us. When we consider God’s faithfulness, the story of Prince of Peace that includes Joan and Jim and you is a powerful witness.
Pastors come and go too, also for a variety of reasons. Every departure can be hard on a community of faith like ours. As we prepare to say farewell to Pastor Ruth on Sunday, it’s difficult not to feel the profound loss of a gifted leader and talented care-giver. Her time among us was another one of those privileges we carry as blessed children of God. I give thanks for her care-full attention to our most fragile members and her ready enthusiasm to embrace the ministry paradigms that were shifting around us (with unrelenting urgency this past year+). God has been able to bless this community deeply through Ruth and I’m confident that God will continue to pour out blessings through her work and in service to the next communities she will tend.
And because God is faithful, we can have confidence that God will bless us through the next minister for Visitation and Congregational Care. Something new will happen when that day comes. God is always making something new. And, together, we get to be a part of whatever comes next, a privilege for us all.
May God’s peace come to you this day. -Pastor Peter
Let us pray,
O God of all creation, whose love for all is trustworthy and true, help each of us to trust the future which rests in your care. During our time together we have experienced laughter and tears, hopes and disappointments. Guide us as we carry these cherished memories with us in new directions until that time when we are completely one with you and with one another. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
Note: This prayer will be used during Sunday’s service of blessing and farewell for Pastor Ruth.