To my Tabernacle Baptist Church family,

For the past five years, I have been a part of this incredible community of faith. I have spent time watching your children, visiting in your homes, praying at your bedside, and walking with you on this journey we call life. We have laughed and cried, celebrated and mourned, butted heads and grown closer. We have lived life.

Two years ago when I was a seminary intern, I originally thought that at the conclusion of my internship and seminary program, I would move on from this place. At the time, we as a church did not know if a residency was the next step. But sure enough, we answered the call to continue to be a teaching congregation. When I was offered a two-year residency at Tabernacle to begin in May 2015, I was confident that God was calling me to stay in this place; to grown in my identity as a pastor; to live into the vocation I have been called to since I was fifteen years old. I said “yes” to being molded and shaped by you.

I am just as confident now that as my residency draws to a close this spring that I am ready for the next step. The goal of the residency is to equip and prepare young ministers. You, my friends, have down this well. You have allowed me to lean and grow. I have made mistakes along the way, and you have extended grace in each of these situations. There have been times that your words of affirmation have gotten me through the tough dates and reminded me why I do what I do. You have made me a better person and a better pastor, and I will never be able to thank you enough.

I have been equipped. I have been prepared. and now I am ready for the last piece of the residency: to be sent. After months of prayer, discernment, wrestling, and soul-searching, I have decided to begin searching for associate pastor positions at other churches. Just as I was called here, I know fully that I am ready to be called to the next place. You have helped me get to this point, and now I ask that you send me, and send me well.

One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 6:8: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go?’ And I said, ‘Here I am, send me!” As I begin this search process, I am praying this prayer daily. I carry it with me everywhere I go. I am allowing myself the freedom to be sent wherever God is calling me to. Because I know that I am ready for that place, because you have gotten me this far. The rest is up to God.

If I may, I have some requests as I enter into the last few months of my residency:

  1. First, I ask that you help me end strong. There will be a time when I need to disengage, but that is not right now. We still have good work to do! Let’s do it together, because that is a lot more fun.
  2. Second, I ask that you not make the months ahead a long good-bye. We both know how exhausting that will be. So let’s avoid it as long as possible, shall we? There will be time to say good-bye. But that time is not right now. I promise to let you say good-bye when the time comes.
  3. Third, I ask that you begin to pray now for whoever is called to this place next. Begin lifting her or him up now. God has a plan for them, just like he has a plan for each of us. Pray for their next steps and the journey they will take to get here.
  4. Finally, I ask that you remember who you are as a church. Because it is great and beautiful place. I know that God has a plan for Tabernacle. But don’t let go of what makes you, you: your love for people, you ability to welcome the stranger, your willingness to take risks (on new ministers, on hard decisions, on each other); your passion for worship; and your ability to be a safe place for the children of God. The world needs more places like Tabernacle. Keep up the good work.

You are good and faithful servants. I will be forever grateful for my time with you. It will always be a part of who I am. Thank you for being you.

With love and a full heart,

Kristen Koger

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