Hello Members and Friends of FUMC,
When I was informed in early 2017 that I was to be appointed Lead Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Oak Ridge, I was thrilled. Annette and I fell in love with this town and its people when we lived here from 1998 to 2006. Those wonderful memories and the joy of returning to a city that already felt like home made leaving our family and friends in Chattanooga bearable. I knew enough about this congregation to feel confident that I would fit in well here. That joyful anticipation has certainly come to fruition. This has been a wonderful place for our family to live and serve.
My decision in 2017 to inform my District Superintendent it was time for me to leave my former church was surprisingly easy—but not because I did not love Christ UMC or its people. The congregation there loved and supported me. Some of our best friends to this day are in Chattanooga. The decision to leave came with a surprising clarity and calm because I knew in my spirit that my time as their pastor was coming to an end.
It is with that same sense of calm and clarity that I have informed the Bishop of Holston Annual Conference and our District Superintendent that I plan to retire from full-time appointed ministry at the end of June 2024.
I have felt enormous love, respect, and support from this congregation. I thank God for the great honor it has been to be your Lead Pastor for more than six years. But I know, deep in my soul, that the time has come for me to retire. I believe God has made this next step abundantly clear to me. I believe this is the best congregation in Holston Annual Conference. Annette and I plan on remaining in Oak Ridge and staying connected to the congregation for years to come, just not as one of its pastors. I give thanks for each of you and will savor these last days of my ministry as this appointment year concludes.
There will be plenty of opportunities between now and June for me to answer all your questions about what lies ahead. But for now, I want to make sure that all of you hear the news from me, and I want you to know that I am thankful that God gave me the great gift of being one of your Pastors.
Blessings and Peace,