Here is a copy of my resignation letter I submitted to the Board on July 3rd:
I hope you will share this letter with the Board and our members. It is with great sadness and regret that I am writing this letter to you resigning as Lead Pastor of St. Paul’s Collegiate Church. Serving as Lead Pastor these past 4 1/2 years have been both the greatest joy and privilege of my life. I will be forever thankful for the opportunity to serve God in this way and will continually rejoice in the fruit that He brought forth and in the memories of partnering in the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the most amazing people I have ever worked with.
Over five years ago, we started with a simple idea: what if the local church really is the hope of the world? What would that look like lived out in our generation and in our part of the world?
From that vision came a dream: A church where all are welcome; where hurting, depressed, frustrated, confused, under-resourced people can find love, acceptance, help, hope, forgiveness, guidance, encouragement and practical assistance; where forgiveness and grace are lived out practically; where both believers and seekers gather together for authentic community — all as part of living out God’s purposes in our generation.
Today, despite all that I have done and all of my failings, I believe more in that vision and that dream than I ever have. And I will pray daily that St. Paul’s continues to pursue that dream and continue to pursue the vision and God’s call to BE THE CHURCH in Northeast Connecticut.
For all of us who were there at the beginning, it was never about us or our vision or our dream. It is about God’s vision — and His dream, His mission. It is His church, and He builds it, and it will prevail.
Personally, two things were always clear for me: (1) that my hope was that St. Paul’s would be my last job — I hoped to minister at St. Paul’s for 30 years; and (2) that I was committed to step out of the way if I ever became a hindrance to the work God was doing.
It is now clear to me that my hope of working at St. Paul’s for 30+ years, and my commitment to never hindering that work, have now clashed. It is my commitment to God and the vision that must trump my dream.
And so, with more regret, sorrow and heart-brokenness than anyone will ever know, I hereby resign as Lead Pastor of St. Paul’s Collegiate Church. I believe that not to resign would be a hindrance to the work God is doing.
I want to note that I am not resigning or withdrawing my membership at St. Paul’s at this time; I am just resigning as Lead Pastor. My hope and desire is that St. Paul’s will continue to be my community of faith and a place where I can find healing, wholeness, forgiveness, grace, restoration, and new purpose.
While I have failed to uphold the ideals of our Community Life Statement and Membership Covenant in the past, I am fully committed to affirming and living by both as I move forward.
There are so many memories I have of all the good things God has done at St. Paul’s — baptisms and new conversions, Imagine Christmas and Good Friday services, the “Easter Door” and our prayer/healing services, our Saturday Serves and trips to Panama. Memories of our membership meetings and Easter dinners and New Community; of worship at the Alumni Center and prayer at the Dinsmores; events like Starving Jesus and Porn Sunday; and just late nights hanging out and talking and dreaming and laughing and crying and praying and doing life together. That is what church is all about.
I also remember vividly the service we did with our founding members back in January 2005. I remember baptizing Josiah and Ashley, I remember all of us signing the Covenant together; and then the first act of the membership was to officially call me from the congregation to serve as Lead Pastor. I was a member first, and only then was called from the community to serve as lead pastor. I know my time as Lead Pastor is now finished. Now I would like to simply return to being a member of the community and serving Christ and our church in that capacity.
I want you to know how deeply painful my failings are to me. But I am not defined by my greatest failures or sins, but by the Cross of Jesus. And I cling to that reality and truth which is core to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I know this letter is both long and long-winded, but it may be my only opportunity to say these things that are on my heart. I do hope that I will be afforded the opportunity to share in person with the members of St. Paul’s my sorrow and desire for forgiveness at some point. And I do again hope and pray that St. Paul’s will be for me what it has been for so many others — a community of faith, healing, grace, and reconciliation.
Under His Undeserving Mercy,