Ten years… already? These have been the fastest ten years of my life! How grateful I am for them; how grateful I am for you.

In the fall of 2006, with prompting from your departing pastor Jack Branford, you invited me to do pulpit supply while you looked for an interim minister.

As we moved through the fall, you intimated that you would consider me for that role. I was eager to say yes, at first. But then I realized, I didn’t want to be your interim pastor, I want- ed to be your installed pastor.

I had fallen in love with you; I felt I had found home. So I said no to the idea of serving as interim and asked to be considered for the installed position.

Usually it is against policy to be serving a church while be- ing a candidate for the installed position. But with the blessing of the Classis of Rockland- Westchester, RCA and reframing the role, it was permitted. So I stayed. Your search committee went through its pro- cess. There were a number of candidates considered. Then you chose me, and I’ve been here ever since. I thank God!

How grateful I am: to Jack for introducing me to you; to the Rev. John Vanden Oever, your classis supervisor, who made it possible for me to stay while candidating; to your search committees for seeing the potential for our collaborative relationship and extending the call to serve you; to all of you for the warm, wonderful welcome you gave to Nora and me. I am deeply grateful.

Leaving is not easy for me. I have loved being a pastor for these forty years; I have loved being YOUR pastor these ten years. These have been rich years for us all.

Although our membership has waned, as I view it we have grown deeply. Our service to the community has grown as we became the host and base of operations for Helping Hands, the county’s sole service to the homeless. RIPB, our service to feed the hungry, tripled over these years. Making room for BOCES to teach English to immigrants here was a natural complement to our mission. We celebrated the arrival of some new members, and bid farewell and Godspeed to many long- standing members. We were blessed with significant be- quests that have enabled us to carry on our mission and ministry; and we’ve been good stewards of our resources.

Our building is old, but unlike many churches, we have not deferred maintenance; we’ve put on a new roof, installed a new boiler, new fire alarm system, and security monitoring system. We have worshipped and played and picnicked. We’ve had births and weddings and funerals. We have been family, an extraordinary family— diverse, inclusive, progressive, and faith-filled!

Nora and I have felt a part of your family from the beginning. We will never forget your generous support and compassion: during the summer of 2008 when I underwent surgery, contracted MRSA, and was a long time recovering; and then even more profoundly through- out the long months preceding and following the death of our son. How can we ever thank you enough?

I will be praying for you, and I ask that you pray for us. It is hard to leave, hard to say goodbye. What isn’t hard is to say thank you. I am/we are so very, deeply grateful!

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