You should have received or will receive this in the mail. But if you were unable to participate in the service this past Sunday, here is Doug and Katie's announcement.
Dear Community and Friends of First Presbyterian Church,
I am writing to inform you that it is with great sadness that I have turned in my resignation as the Pastor of First Pres. Aberdeen. If you were not with us on Sunday, June 14 or were unable to watch the video of the service on live-stream I deeply regret having to inform you in this way. I wish I could sit down with each of you and explain the decision – but that is not possible, even if we were not in these unusual pandemic times.
In mid-February we got a message from my sister that my dad was starting to have trouble with some of his regular weekly routines. This began a series of doctor’s visits and conversations with my siblings. He was diagnosed with early stages of dementia. We came to the conclusion that the best thing for my dad right now is to move in and live with one of us. It seems best for him to remain in the greater Des Moines area for his doctors, connections, and routines to remain as stable as possible. After talking with my siblings, Katie and I decided we were willing and able to take this on. Though, my family will certainly be partnering with us and supporting us along the way.
Once the COVID19 virus closures began we put this conversation on hold for a couple of months as we all tried to figure out life at a distance and then in May we started talking again with family. Katie and I have had a transition in the back of our minds for a couple of years now because of the distance from the rest of our family and our kids getting more and more involved in sports, school activities, and other things. We kept pushing that decision off because it was hard to imagine being anywhere else than here. We love the church, we love our friends, we love our home and our neighbors and our kids’ friends and our involvement in the community. God has been so good to us in this place.
It seems futile to try and summarize 11+ years of ministry. We have experienced much change as older saints have passed away, as good friends have moved to other parts of the country, and as new members have joined us to take their place. We had five piano players, three office administrators, two youth pastors, and a music intern who would often wear a Buffy the Vampire Slayer t-shirt on Sunday mornings. We took trips to San Francisco with the youth and wrote and produced Christmas and Easter plays and I loved telling the Bible stories at VBS every year. We baptized babies and some adults and had a few weddings. We celebrated 125 years of ministry. We continued long term mission projects like Feed the Hungry and the Aberdeen Food Bank and we started some new ones – Family Promise, Recovery Grays Harbor and Feast for All. I made mistakes and you were gracious. I’m sure I pushed my own agenda at times and at others I probably didn’t push hard enough. I preached over 500 sermons. I won’t even tell you how many hours of your life that has taken up. We helped carry one another through tragedy and sorrow. And through it all, God has taught us more and more about the great gospel of grace that is Jesus of Nazareth. His Spirit has been present and active. I cried often. I hope I laughed more.
We also know that God will continue to be faithful over the next weeks and months and years. We don’t know exactly what we will be doing. I still feel called to ministry and we trust in God’s grace and in his timing that there will be a congregation that I will be able to help serve in the greater Des Moines area. And we trust Katie will find a job that uses her skills and talents. Katie’s parents and extended family also live in Iowa and so while it is hard to fathom starting over with friendships and community and a new church we are also excited about being much more involved with our families on a regular basis.
First Presbyterian Church of Aberdeen will continue to serve God, one another and the community and you will continue to grow in faith, hope and love. You will likely have a transitional Pastor for a while as you search for your new Pastor. It will often feel like a slow process. But, God works in the waiting, even as we have seen recently during COVID19. We have a great team of Elders and Deacons, a generous and active congregation, a gifted staff, an abundance of talent, and a community that needs the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
July 12 will likely be my last Sunday. In the meantime the Elders will meet with Presbytery and get a plan in place for the remainder of the summer. And we will try, as best we can given the continued restrictions, to ease our way back into in-person worship for those who can attend and continue to provide on-line options. And our family will try to find as many ways as we can, as often as possible, over the next couple of months to try and communicate how grateful we are that God called us to this place and this church. We love you and this community and it is so hard to say goodbye. We also trust that God will do a new thing both in us as a family and in you as a church family.
Grace and peace,