Today, we say goodbye to our church.
Today, we also say thank you.
Thank you for your prayers and support for Tillery. You prayed during surgeries, you petitioned God during emergencies and critical times, and you praised Him every time we saw improvements and progress. You sent many cards and care packages, along with a treasured Prayer Bear that sat in her hospital bed during some very critical hospital stays.
Thank you for your prayers and support for Luke. You helped him get donuts and let him sit on your pew during times when he didn't have a mommy to sit with him. You helped him work puzzles and played hide and seek with a boy who needed to be seen. You prayed for a big brother to never feel alone in this world of having a sick sibling.
Thank you for your prayers and support for Joe. He was your pastor but you were also able to see him as a dad and husband. You saw his human side and you allowed him to be both the leader of your church and the leader of our family. You prayed for him, not just in a general way that people pray for their pastor but in a way that saw his struggles and the struggles of his family. You allowed him to serve God through your church while your church also served him.
Thank you for your prayers and support for me. As a pastor's wife, I've often felt pressure to be someone that does not feel natural. You never asked me to be anyone other than myself. You always accepted me as me. You supported me in many ways during my time away from home. You prayed, sent cards, and sent love. But the biggest thing you did for me is show me that you were being a church to my son and husband. I was in Soddy Daisy 3 months before leaving for 7 months and I got to know many of you through your words in cards and Facebook. When I returned home, it felt like coming back to old friends and I thank you for that comfort.
We are different people than the ones who first visited your church. Every time we visit a new appointment for the first time, we try not to get ahead of ourselves but it's always hard not to get excited about possibilities we see. At Daisy UMC, we saw a church who wanted to be active and wanted to grow together and we were excited to be coming in to be a part of that. We had no idea that your growth would involve the love you shared for our daughter. It is humbling to see the love and support that has been poured out onto our family over these past two years.
It is customary in the clergy family role to say goodbye on the final Sunday and then turn your focus to the next appointment. We are encouraged to not stay involved at the church we are leaving because it makes things hard for the next clergy family coming in to serve. This week at Annual Conference, so many of our clergy friends said to us, "Daisy has been such a wonderful church to you all, I'm sure you will always stay in touch." They all recognize how special our time here has been and how special your church is to our family. There is no way that we could say goodbye and walk away from the church that stood by us during the darkest time of our lives. You will forever be in our hearts and a part of Tillery's story always.
The Anderson family, who will be moving into the parsonage and the pulpit, will be a wonderful fit for Daisy UMC. We have a good relationship with them and feel that you will be in great hands.
And to our new church, Norwood UMC, we are excited to meet you! We are ready to serve God with you and do ministry with you. We are ready for you to be the next church to help us raise our children to love the Lord.
Today ends our time at Daisy UMC. The parsonage will be packed and baton will be passed. When we meet again, it will be a blessing, just as the past two years have been. Goodbye, friends.