“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that the One who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Sunday - May 7, 2017
Dear Shepherd of the Hill Family -
After considerable prayer, years of careful planning and long conversations with my family, colleagues and friends, I have decided to retire from full time ministry at Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church.
My last Sunday will be October 1, 2017.
This decision was not made lightly or recently. Mary and I have been planning toward this date of retirement for more than six years. Mary and I will continue to live in Puyallup and our lives will continue to orbit around our family/friends and Mary’s work as a 6th grade elementary school teacher.
I have deeply loved this congregation. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be called your pastor for 26 years. In short, this has been a wonderful community to call home. For all your support, I cannot say “thank you” enough.
You have been particularly gracious and generous with my family. As our extended family, you have helped Mary and me raise our two daughters and you have also been an extended family to our son-in-law, granddaughters and, most recently, my mother.
The next five months will bring change, but I am excited about your future and intend to walk this pathway of transition with this congregation, staff and session under the helpful guidance of the Commission on Ministry (Olympia Presbytery). Together, we will work to prepare for the future as well as follow through on all our current ministry/mission objectives and commitments. Finally, the Session elders of our congregation and representatives from the Commission on Ministry will be very clear with everyone about Shepherd’s next steps and keep all of you informed of things as they take shape and as they progress in the coming months.
This letter of retiring from full time ministry at Shepherd of the Hill is not the end of all things. In fact, it is another beginning. I am reminded of a comment Barbara Brown Taylor made in her book Leaving Church: “After I left the church of which I was a pastor, I remembered what I had known all along, which is that church is not a stopping place but a starting place for discerning God’s presence in this world.” I look forward to yet another starting place to discern God’s presence in my life and in the life of this congregation.
Rev. Gary E. Mathiesen