Our Dearest Covenant Family and our Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
It is with mixed emotions and heartfelt gratitude that we write this final newsletter article. Our hearts are saddened as we prepare to walk away from pastoral leadership at Covenant. We have shared the journey of life and discipleship with you for almost thirty-two years, and have been richly blessed. Our family has experienced the depth and breadth of God’s love and grace through you. Together we have shared that same love with our community and world. We have much to celebrate! Thanks be to God!
Yet we know it is time to move to this new season of retirement. It is easier for us to take this step because we have a strong leadership team in place – truly a gracious work of God. Knowing this, we leave confident and excited about what God has in mind for Covenant and for us. More than anything our hearts are filled with gratitude. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
This morning Hal was reading the letter we received from Roy Nichols in November 1985. Roy was chair of the Pastor Search Committee. We were beginning nine months of correspondence and interviews that led to God’s calling us to Covenant. We remember meeting members of the search committee, engaging in their exceedingly thorough interviews, praying and worshiping with them. During the process we wondered, “Is this the place to which God is calling us?” It is reassuring to look back at that process from the perspective of 32 years of ministry together. We are thankful for God’s goodness expressed through you and how you have loved us and our children so well.
Many of you have asked about our plans for retirement. One of the experiences we are looking forward to is traveling together, being somewhere and saying to one another, “Let’s spend a few more days here.” Travel is one of the things we hope to do. We plan to spend more time traveling to visit our children, places we have never been, spending more precious time with our grandchildren, reconnecting with old friends and keeping up with you. In addition, we plan to engage in short term mission work with some of our mission partners in Africa, Ireland, Lebanon and even Asia and Central/South America. This could involve teaching, preaching, leadership training with pastoral couples among other things. We also plan to spend more time with Jean’s parents helping them in the aging process. They have loved and supported us through the years, and we consider it an honor and joy to love and support them in their last days.
Some of you have asked what our relationship with Covenant will look like. First of all we have treasured our time of pastoral leadership. However, Hal has an ethical obligation to refrain from pastoral leadership at Covenant so that you can help David become your pastoral leader. It is time for a new season of life for us. What will that look like? We hope to continue our relationship with you as you are our family, and we treasure your friendship! Please feel free to communicate with us as friends. We love and value you! Second, we plan to step away from Covenant for at least a year for two reasons: l. to give us time to get used to being in a new relationship with you, and 2. to give you time to bond with David as your pastoral leader. We hope you will love, encourage, support and pray for David and Alison as you have for us and all of the Covenant staff on this new journey. They are all blessed to serve our gracious Covenant Family; and you are blessed to have them serve among you.
As we’ve approached retirement we have considered what our future might look like. Would we remain in Huntsville? For how long? Would we move? Our original plan was to keep our home in Huntsville traveling near and far and living primarily with Jean’s parents. However, we recently had an opportunity to purchase a condominium in Knoxville which we believe was a precious gift from God! We were not planning to move immediately, but one day drove by this condo, saw someone outside, looked at it and made an offer. It was the right location near our children and grandchildren, Hayden, Jennifer, Camden, McCoy and Layla and not too far away to care for Jean’s parents, the right space and the right price for a perfect retirement home. As we have reflected on our future, we realized that we needed to go ahead and move to be close to Jean’s parents and one of our children. It will be hard to leave Covenant and Huntsville after 32 years, but we are confident that we are in God’s will with this move and will miss you so much! Please know that our home and our hearts will always be your home so you are always welcome to visit us in Knoxville!
Our words can never fully express the overflowing love and thanksgiving we will always carry in our hearts for our precious Covenant Family! (Our Prayer for You – Philippians 1:2-11) You have blessed our family with the beautiful, faithful and gracious gift of His love for 32 years! How beautiful is the Body of Christ! Covenant shines with His beauty, love and grace and is His light shining brightly in the darkness to Huntsville and the world! We leave with the assurance of Christ’s hope, promise and love as we entrust our plans and futures to Him, knowing that we will all be together in our eternal home, glorifying and enjoying Him forever! (Jeremiah 29:11-13 and John 3:16)
Our Beautiful Covenant Family, we love you beyond measure, give thanks for you, pray for you and trust God is faithful and will always hold us close in His Spirit forever!
Grace and Peace as We Remain Faithfully His Disciples,
Hal and Jean
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good and His love endures forever!
This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” Psalm 118: 1 & 24
This is the Word of the Lord, Thanks be to God!!!