My Swift Church family,
Jan. 31 will be my last day serving as your assistant pastor. Although I support the financial decisions made by the session, it feels as though I am breaking up with someone I still love. For I do so love the people of Swift, the piney woods, the memories we’ve shared and the support and guidance you’ve given to me over the past 16 years. It has been a joy to have our lives interwoven.
I believe that Swift Church is going through a season of winter. Attendance has declined, youth migrated to explore other churches and some Covid online worshipers found worshiping from home to be best for them. Members have died, others moved away. Countless churches of multiple denominations are experiencing similar declines.
But God has not left Swift! The Holy Spirit continues to live in and among us! When we celebrated the birth of the Christ child, Emmanuel, we celebrated God with us! We are blanketed with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
I continue to claim Jeremiah 29:11 as a guiding Scripture for Swift, and for me personally: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I have hope for where God is leading Swift and where he is leading me and Philip.
Another Scripture that has been speaking to my heart has been Isaiah 43:19: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” God has been at work through the people of Swift Church for over 100 years. He’s not leaving now. Worship and ministry and fellowship may be changing, and yet we continue “striving to bring God joy.”
It is true, though, that I am leaving Swift as your assistant pastor. I will be handing over my pastoral, ministerial, and administrative responsibilities. I will no longer be leading worship, though I look forward to worshiping with Philip at the church he pastors in Mobile. I will not be leading Bible studies, working the food pantry, snapping pictures for Facebook at events, or attending our fellowship meals. I won’t be the point person for funeral details, nor presiding over funerals. I won’t be available by email, text or phone or in the office for those random church questions that come up.
I will be praying for you as God leads Swift to its next senior pastor. In my absence, the various things I have been doing will be done by the deacons, the session, the office staff, our Interim Pastor Michael, our next installed pastor, and … many of you! This time of transition will provide an opportunity for all of you to share your gifts and talents as well.
Having married into Swift just before my position became available, I am related to lots of Swift members. Our family relationships will continue! And having been with you so long, I have become friends with many of you. Family and friends, when we see one another from time to time, we will not be talking about the life of the church, though I will want to hear about what’s going on in your lives.
I miss you already, and yet I “trust in the Lord with all my heart, leaning not my own understanding” that “he has plans for us.” Plans for Swift Church, plans for each of us.Thank you for walking with me through these many years of ministry together.
Pastor Jody Beth