Tomorrow (Sunday, May 27, 2012) is my Pastor’s last day at my church. Mark has served at HBC for almost 6 years. The average tenure of a Senior Pastor is 3.6 years and he almost doubled that in his first stop as as a Pastor! He will be going to Southside Baptist Church in Princeton, KY.
Less than a year into his tenure, he assembled our Student Pastor and myself to complete his Pastoral Staff.
We have had many great memories in the past five years together. Mark got married my first month on the job. We were there for the birth of their first child, and the adoption of their second. We served through many trials, joys and conflicts, but many hilarious memories will prevail when thinking about our time together.
In my ministry, this is the first time that I have served with a Senior Pastor who was called away during my ministry at the church. The other times, the Pastor either never left, left because he was forced, or there was never a pastor there during my stay.
When he told me he was leaving, this brought out much emotion from me as I am close to Mark (our Student Pastor as well) and we are like family. Mark is an amazing preacher and we knew the time was coming when God would call him away, but we assumed we had a few more years until he moved on. Over the past month, the church has moved into the Interim search process and will be headed into the Pastor search process soon, I am sure. They have been here before. The congregation (for the majority) wanted the staff to be together for the long haul. No church wants to go through staff transition…especially every 3-4 years (or less).
Some see the Pastor transition as “life goes on” but, to those who worked with the Pastor everyday (and had a great relationship) we are losing a part of our family. In the ministry, sometimes ministers don’t have an extended family connection as they move around a lot and the congregations become their extended family. When ministers have the privilege of serving together without conflict, the co-pastors become brothers. It takes time to move on and time to process.
So, as Mark leaves to begin step 2 of his ministry service, I look back on the great times we’ve shared: the baptism of my daughter, staff retreats, family times, his “ability” to share in song, his affection for UofL basketball, the growth of his family and the Five-Year celebration we held for him.
So, what comes next?
In my eyes, I gain a valuable ministry mentor that I can share everything with and hopefully a friendship that can grow without limits brought on my ministering together in the same church.
Only God knows the plans for us. But as I think about HBC I will always remember the times with Mark and Matt as a time in my life that I needed desperately. I just hope that Mark realizes the minister he has been to me during his time at HBC. Not just a friend, not just a co-worker…but Mark has, indeed, been my Pastor and my brother.