June 21, 2018
Dear First Trinity family:
On Sunday, Pastor Tom shared with us that the synod has granted him an academic leave, and that he will be stepping down as pastor for our church Aug. 12.
I am writing to tell you that the council has accepted his resignation. I am also writing to assure all of you that the council is already planning for our future, and to explain what we know so far about our next steps to call a new pastor.
On behalf of the council and congregation, I’d like to wish him well and ask God to bless him on his new journey with the studies, his family and wherever the Spirit leads him after he is awarded his doctoral degree.
To be sure, I say this with heartache — as I am sure others have, too — because Pastor Tom has embodied love and leadership, and has been a driving force behind rebuilding the First Trinity we all know and love today. God blessed us all when he brought Pastor Tom into our lives.
For nine years, he has grown with us. He came to us as a seminarian when just a core group of faithful remained in the congregation. Against the odds, First Trinity called him and he accepted our call. He even turned down another church, and waited for us to be ready. Over the years, he led the church’s efforts to become the heartbeat of a special community — one that embraces everyone with love, serves its neighbors, and feeds people’s bodies, souls and minds. He helped us build a membership here and embrace becoming an RIC church, and ushered us into this new era — an era that bristles with excitement as we look to open a retreat center, build a community youth program and all of the other, exciting activities in place and that we are still dreaming of.
I’d like to assure you that none of that will change. The council is committed to keeping up the momentum of our progress, and is committed to steering the congregation toward choosing its next leader. Please know that we have been praying and talking with each other, and we are confident that we will find a pastor who fits our vision of what First Trinity is and will be.
We have been in touch with Rev. Hector Garfias-Toledo, who assists the bishop and has been leading us through the redevelopment process. He will be guiding us through this transition and through the call process. The council’s first meeting with him is in early July.
We will be learning about our options for interim pastors and leaders, and about the call process. Our goal is to have an interim pastor or leader in place Aug. 13. We know right now that we do have an option to contract with Vicar Sam, and we would like to explore the possibility of keeping her close to us for as long as we can. We will have more details about next steps in a few weeks, and I promise the council and I will keep all of you informed every step of the way.
If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at any time. I will be at God’s Closet on most Tuesday nights and on occasional Friday mornings. You can also email me at email@example.com or call or text me at 407-967-2434. Please reach out to any council member you feel comfortable speaking with, too.
And I urge you to please talk to us. We will be reaching out, but we want you to know that First Trinity’s future is yours, and we are eager to hear all of your thoughts about building a faith community you are proud to be part of.
We’d like to thank Pastor Tom for his dedication and service to First Trinity, and for teaching us to open our hearts and minds to the whispers of the Spirit and the word of God to love each other and live out that love in the world.
We pray that God bless Pastor Tom as he moves into this next phase of his beautiful, new life, and we ask God to fill it with abundance, peace and love. We love you, Pastor Tom, and we are ever-so-grateful for your ministry.
To the congregation: May we all pray together for patience and inspiration as we head into this transformation. It will be exciting. It will be beautiful.
Peace to all of you,
First Lutheran Church of the Trinity