Dear Church Family:

Two years ago we began a dialogue about the possibility of a sabbatical for 2014. The twenty four month gap between those initial conversations and the reality of this week’s departure is nothing short of amazing for my family. Your willingness to send us so openly is an act of authentic grace and unconditional love. The generosity of the church, and Lilly Endowment, has opened a door that we soon walk through. I have no idea what awaits, none of us do. However, I am beyond excited to step into it and believe that God will give us what is needed to absorb the experience in anticipation of returning home to tell the story.

I have complete confidence in the Pastoral Staff, Support Staff, and Lay Leaders as they guide Tabernacle through the summer. God has blessed us with an abundance of servant leaders and I thank each of them for their willingness to carry the additional responsibilities that will be required over the next three months. I leave this week with a heart full of gratitude and tremendous hope for our future together. I also look forward to returning home again, on the other side of sabbatical, with renewed energy and passion for what will inevitably be a continued season of spiritual and numerical growth.

Mary Oliver, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, in “Six Recognitions of our Lord” articulates the return home in this way, “‘I go back to … my own house, my own life, which has now become brighter and simpler, somewhere I have never been before.” The Light that is guiding my family out into the world isn’t waiting for us….out “there”. Rather it is here at home and it has guided us as we’ve walked with you over these last ten years. The light will go with us into the world and it will also remain with you. It will bring us home again and I believe that all us will see everything more brightly when we come back together.

Thank you for receiving us. Thank you for sending us. Thank you for receiving us again on the other side. We love you.
Yours in Christ,

Sterling Severns

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