My Rector is retiring in May of this year.
To be accurate he is not "my" Rector, he is the Rector of St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key here in Sarasota.
To be even more accurate, he is first and foremost my brother in Christ, Ted Copland.
Ted was ordained 43 years ago, He has been Rector at St. Boniface for twenty years. His skilled, wise and firm leadership has enabled St. Boniface Church to become one of the most whole and healthy parishes in the Episcopal Church.
My first reaction to the news was to think and say "good for you Ted (and good for your wife Judy)". My own adventure into retirement has led me into the happiest time of my life, and I know this will be true for Judy and Ted.
Then I became a wee bit anxious. For you see, I have always been the Rector who has left: - Fitchburg for Chicopee, Chicopee for Pittsfield, Pittsfield for Cambridge, and Cambridge into retirement. I always assured the people of God in those places that though we would miss each other, in the love and faith of God they would do well with whoever became the new Rector.
But I've never had a Rector leave me! Hence my anxiety. It is impossible to imagine a St. Boniface Church without Ted and Judy.
What is possible is to envisage a St. Boniface's which grows even more strong in faith and good works. This growth will continue the day after Ted leaves, thanks to the grace of the Holy Spirit and the strong cadre of wise lay leaders. That same Spirit and those same leaders will work together to call a new Rector.
Whoever she or he is will inherit "* a field of health growth" which has been splendidly plowed, watered, fertilized and nurtured these past twenty years under Ted's fine stewardship.
(* see 1 Corinthians 3 v 9 )
That being the case, I (and we) are also feeling appropriately sad because our Rector is retiring.