April 12, 2018

Dear Friends in Christ,

Our time together is drawing to a close, and so I am writing to thank you for your love, prayers and support, and to update you on what happens next.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for the privilege of being your priest for nearly three years. We have been through much together, including the fires last October. The Church of the Incarnation has stood faithfully in the winds of many challenges and done so with courage and commitment. You inspire me every single day.

My last Sunday with you will be May 6, and on that Sunday we will have our regular 8 a.m. worship, and then we will combine the two later services into a single 10 a.m. service. At this last service together, we will have a special liturgy for “The Ending of a Pastoral Relationship.” I will stand before the wardens, hand over my keys, and ask whether you “recognize and accept the conclusion of this pastoral relationship?” We will have special prayers of thanks for what we’ve done together. And then we will have a party with a Cinco de Mayo theme!

Soon you will welcome The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver and his family. His first Sunday with you as Rector will be June 24. I pray you will show Stephen, Julia and their daughter, Abby, all the love and support they deserve and need. Theirs is a large undertaking, and they will especially need your prayers. Stephen is a gifted leader, teacher and pastor, and I pray you will be open to all he brings to this parish.

After I leave, please understand that our relationship will have changed. I will not be available to preside at weddings, baptisms, funerals or other sacramental rites of the Church, nor will I be available to provide pastoral care. I will not return to the Church of the Incarnation except by the invitation of the rector. I will be returning to my Sacramento home. I will still be in the same diocese with you, and I will update you about my plans as they unfold.

In the meantime, until Pastor Stephen arrives, the Rev. Rod McAulay will lead your worship with Deacon Pamela Moore. Steve Layton, senior warden, will have the canonical responsibility of guiding the parish until the arrival of the new rector. All of the staff will still be in place and doing their jobs. They and the Vestry need your support – and patience – in this transition. I will be available to answer questions from Pastor Stephen in this transition as we complete a healthy “hand off” of responsibility. Indeed, he and I are already meeting regularly. I will not, however, offer opinions or engage in conversations with others about parish administration after my departure.

As with any transition, some things will change at the Church of the Incarnation. What will not change is Christ’s call to us to bring the Good News of hope, healing and salvation to a very hurting and hungry world. You are in very good hands in the days and years ahead, and the Risen Christ will be with you always.

Finally, joining with Lori, we both thank you for allowing us to be among you these past few years.

Faithfully yours,
Pastor Jim+