WORSHIP | Monday, June 12, 2017
Celebration of Retirement
By Rev. Timothy McCollum*
As we gather to remember the church every year at annual conference, we remember a living breathing church. We remember the living body of Christ and we celebrate its many parts. One of the many wonders of the church breathes deeply through those persons who give their lives to the ministry. In the annual retirement service, we celebrate the lives of those who are heading in a new direction.
I remember the first time I learned about the process of retirement in the UMC. Retirement is considered an appointment. It is not a departure from ministry, but a change in ministry status, a new direction for a life in Christ.
We were reminded of the powerful theology contained within the hymns of the church as we sang “Come Christians join to Sing” and “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”.
Bishop Tracy Malone offered up these powerful words “We thank you, for you have kept the Word of the Lord alive”. She brought forward the statistics that our retiring class of 2017 had served over 450 years of combined mission and ministry across the church. As she broke down those years into weeks, days, and hours, she reminded the class of retirees that they are not done. Bishop Malone pronounced this blessing over them, “As you head in new directions, may you be empowered to share more of who you are into the lives of those around you.”
Our worship guide listed the names of nineteen retirees this year, some of whom were unable to be present for the service this evening. We heard highlights of their ministry. Those highlights covered a broad range from being part of conference committees and boards to local church ministries and community ministries like volunteering in local schools and fire departments. The Body of Christ has many parts and many gifts. In honoring the many forms of ministry, we remember the gift of God’s call in our lives.
As the service closed with songs and prayer, the retirees took a first step, an easy step;as they moved to their places in the auditorium to share with those who celebrate with them.
Lord, may new steps lead into new blessings. And may Your eternal grace walk with each of them.
*Rev. Timothy McCollum serves Fitchville, New Haven and North Fairfield UMCs (Firelands District)