6 December 2018; Nicholas, Bishop of Myra
TO GOD’S BELOVED IN THE DIOCESE OF MARYLAND
Growing up in a Navy family, I absorbed the cultural practices of Hail and Farewell, and to this day I remember the duties of a “short-timer.” Not only did we wear a small blue and gold ribbon, we made a list of people to whom thank you letters would be ideally hand-delivered. We thought about who should receive personal effects which exceeded the capacity of our military cargo container. We made our lists of memories to cherish. We planned our “send off” and made sure the invitation list was complete. The rituals urged that we publicly articulate how we wanted to be remembered. And we disclosed as much as possible about our next posting as we said Farewell.
Saying Farewell is not easy work, but it’s important work: it honors time shared together on this grace-filled and challenging journey called life. The bonds we have built with one another are sacred and holy. We have, as Diocese of Maryland and Assistant Bishop, spent a good season together, and I am deeply grateful. Memories I will cherish, to mention only a few:
The utter joy of working with a devoted diocesan staff – true colleagues in every way
Ribbon-cuttings and groundbreakings for new additions, environmental projects, renovations, new church furnishings and rededicated facilities
Confirming and receiving hundreds of people, young and old, and seeing how their faces change as they experience that sacramental moment
Celebrating New Ministries as clergy and people commit to shared ministry in a new chapter
Regional and diocesan clergy gatherings where, increasingly, we were honest and bold in sharing with one another our truths
Walking the path of racial reconciliation and truth-telling with you in a number of contexts
Being at Claggett for so many programs, retreats, seminars, vestry days and youth events
The wide-open road trips to sturdy, faithful congregations in the western part of our diocese
The tenacity and vibrancy of our small churches, and their new community with one another
Welcoming Michael Curry, our Presiding Bishop, “home” to the Diocese of Maryland, and the wondrous night we had with him at our 2017 Diocesan Convention
The many moments with people discerning and pursuing vocational promptings, as ordained or as intentional lay ministers
Welcoming folks into the new Deacon Formation Program, and feeling the vision take hold
Being with elected General Convention deputies in Austin this summer for the work of the whole church.
As we end this season in ministry, I want to tell you all how gratified I have felt as we’ve spent time together. It’s been the best three years of my ministry. I will begin assisting the Bishop of Washington in mid-February, and look forward to that next chapter. But you will always be in my heart and in my prayers. I love you so much, Diocese of Maryland. Goodbye and thank you.
Ever in Christ,