Sunday, June 29, 2014

Grief, Grace, and Gratitude

What follows is the text of the letter sent to all active members of Two Saints such that by this morning (Sunday, June 29) almost everyone knew of my decision to resign as rector of this great parish.  My last Sunday will be July 27, 2014, with a Farewell Celebration on Saturday, August 2 at 5 pm to which all are welcome.

                                                                        The Nativity of St. John the Baptist
                                                                        June 24, 2014

My sisters and brothers at Two Saints,

            This letter is to announce my resignation as your rector due to my continued health issues.  Know that I do this for my own sake, but also that of the parish.  It is heartbreaking for me to leave you.  I love you deeply, and will continue to do so, but I cannot in all honesty give you the level of leadership you need.

            Over the past four months I have had to come to terms with the fact that, although I have significant gifts to give to parish ministry, I also have limitations.  The latter statement may seem to some of you that I am giving up the struggle against my illness, but that is very far from the case.  The reality is that in order to live with bipolar disease (and living with it is my only option), I must do so from a position of honesty and clear-headedness.

            I have loved my time as your rector, and I believe with all my heart that we were called to work together, and, in doing so, have, by the grace of God, accomplished much.  I admit that I have made mistakes along the way, and to those of you who have been on the short end of those mistakes, I offer my profound apology.  But overall I rejoice in our time together and am grateful to God not only for my ministry with you, but also your ministry to me.  Ironically, the depth of our relationship has been one of the factors in giving me the courage to do what I must do.

            It is human nature to attempt to find out what or who is “to blame” when something unexpected like this happens.  I want you to know that the factors that led to this point are many, and no single one of them is to blame.  Assigning blame will not get you or me anywhere positive.  And such, I trust I have taught you consistently, is not the way of God with us.

            As I leave the accomplishments with which I am most pleased are four in number:

v  I do believe we moved beyond the “merger period” and into a future-oriented sense of purpose and mission.  In doing so we loved each other across many lines of difference, and maintained, if not increased, our witness to the church and the world that inclusiveness is a deeply gospel value.

v  I believe we took great steps in empowering our members for ministry both within and beyond the church, including changing the climate of vestry such that members were more willing to serve and happier doing so, increasing formation opportunities such as Education for Ministry, and taking steps to be more inclusive of children in our overall life as a parish.

v  We have worked with our building to make it more accessible and flexible which is vitally important for our future.  We have done so not instead of mission but in order to enable it.

v  We proved to ourselves that we could get a handle on parish finances, reduce dependence on endowment and increase our level of personal stewardship.  And these things were accomplished, I believe, not out of guilt, but out of a strong commitment to the parish’s future.

At this point I do not know precisely what is next, but Bishop Singh, Canon Cicora, and I are in conversation about what form of ministry could use my gifts while providing a setting that also is realistic in terms of my limitations.  I ask your prayers.  You will remain in mine always.  The Vestry and I will announce soon the schedule of my departure.  I do plan on being with you at the Altar for the next five Sundays at least.

Glory to God, whose power working in us can do more than we can ask or imagine.  Glory to God from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever.

            I am, and always will be, yours in the love of Jesus and the communion of the Holy Spirit,



Michael Nicosia said...

Rev. Michael,
During my ministry with Dignity-Integrity/Rochester I valued your hospitality, friendship, collaboration, and your advocacy for the disenfranchised that both challenged our community and inspired my own ministry.
Blessings on your path.
Fr. Michael J. Nicosia, Denver

PCanonD said...

Blessings to you in the coming weeks and as you continue to do ministry and keep your health in balance. Day by day it will happen and you WILL find a successful path for living g with it.
-Will Westerfield, Eastern MI

Mike R. said...

You will be in our prayers. Naming the Power/Principality ic courageous and the path to working with it.

The Russells

Jim said...

Hard to read this level of pain from a friend of so many years. Long and long ago we journeyed together to Kenosha and beyond.

I am sure you will find another ministry that fits your reality well. Bi-polar issues require a clear eye on the future, and I am sure you have it.

Prayers for success and healing.

Love always

Jim B.

leigh said...

I wept as I read your resignation letter. We remember your service with St Andrew's with great love and fondness. We have spoken of you and John many, many times. May you feel the strength and peace that only our Lord can provide as the both of you embark on this new journey together.

Kathy Caruso and Leigh Hollis-Caruso