Celebration of Retirement
By Rev. Donald Kuntz*
Bishop Tracy S. Malone addressed her remarks to the “beloved children of God” as she celebrated the ministries and sacrifices of the 39 members of the retirement class of 2018, the second largest class in the history of the East Ohio Conference representing 1,135 years of ministry and pastoral wisdom. The scripture reading expressed “thanks to God for you,” as the choir anthem testified that God has been seen in their work.
The retired relationship is an administrative mystery within the life of the church. This is a new season of life, a new beginning, as one gives up the church keys and is set free for service in other places. The Holy Spirit does not relinquish the call upon their lives; their work within the word of God is not finished. As Malone reminded the class their ministry does not end: “as long as the blood of Jesus still runs in your body, there is still more to do.” These are trees planted by streams of water; these are trees whose leaves are for the healing of the nations.
These clergy have yielded “fruit that lasts.” Malone blessed them in their “coming and going,” and challenged them to “continue to bear fruit that lasts,” as she affirmed that their “ministry has made a difference.” Significant moments in ministry measure a career, as tree rings measure a year. “Well done, good and faithful servants.”
*Rev. Donald Kuntz is pastor of Mansfield First UMC.