My dear Church Family,
Many of you have heard this story, but I’ll share it again. Who knew that when I was first introduced to Tabernacle in 2009 when they came to Passport, and I had three Karen students in my group that I would have the chance to be reunited with them years later in a line at a business meeting lunch. Who knew that a miscommunication about a pastoral care rotation 5 years ago would have led me to find a home at Tabernacle. Who knew that when I wandered in on that Sunday during the Epiphany season that God was already working in my life and yours and this place that would help me become a Pastor. As I look back over the last five years, I am continually shocked and amazed and grateful for the ways God has nudged me and guided us together. It has been a wonderful journey.
I have had the incredible opportunity to care for your youngest children in the nursery on Sunday mornings; to guide parents as they are leaving their precious gifts for a few hours. I have sat on the floor and wondered about the stories of our faith with the children of God. I have talked with parents and married couples about the struggles that married life and parenting brings and grown in deeper relationship with these folks. I have sat around tables on Tuesdays and discussed sermons and scripture passages with folks twice or three times my age, and been inspired and changed by their faith stories. I have stood at bedsides, wedding altars, and gravesides, treading on the most holiest of grounds in some of life’s most challenging and meaningful moments. I have learned to claim and own the identity of Pastor that was given to me by God, but allowed to grow and bloom in me through you, the Church.
Two and a half years ago when I was asked if I would consider being Tabernacle’s pastoral resident, there was no doubt in my mind that I should say “Yes!” to this opportunity. Of course I wanted to spend more time with you! Of course I wanted to continue to be shaped and taught by this congregation! I will be forever grateful to you, Tabernacle, for the ways you have continued to embrace and challenge me.
Just as I knew two and a half years ago that a residency was what God was calling me to, I knew in the depths of my heart last summer that when my residency came to a close that I would be sent from this place, ready for whatever lies ahead. And although the thought of leaving this place that has been home is painful and difficult, I still know that it was and is the right decision to move on to the next place. It’s the next natural step. The residency is meant to equip and to send; I have been equipped better than I could have ever asked. And now it’s both our turns to follow through with the next part of the task- to send.
I have accepted the call to serve as Minister to Families with Children at First Baptist Church, Decatur, GA. My position as pastoral resident will conclude on May 31, and I will be in worship one last time as we gather to celebrate Pentecost- the day that we acknowledge as the Church’s birthday, when the followers of Christ were empowered and filled with the Spirit and sent out into the world. What a fitting day to be sent out into the world!
I am confident that this is not the end of our journey together. The bridge to Decatur has already been built, and I look forward to seeing how our journeys and paths continue to intersect. This is not the end.
With all my love,
Rev. Kristen Koger