Farewell Letter from Rev. Beth Crissman

posted on June 25

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to God. I always pray for you, and I make my requests with a heart full of thanksgiving because you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am sure that God, who began this good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus comes back again.
Philippians 1: 3-6
Greetings, brothers and sisters, in the gracious name of our Lord, Jesus Christ:
This week as I conclude my service among you in the Blue Ridge District, these words of the apostle Paul to the Church at Philippi have resonated in my heart and mind, expressing the depth of appreciation for the gift of ministry among you. I will always remember and give thanks for how God impressed on my heart and mind that as your District Superintendent and Chief Missional Strategist, my primary task was to lead you, as the laity and clergy, to serve as missionaries being deployed across these nine mountain and foothill counties.  These four years have been marked by beautiful and fruitful partnerships through which disciples are being made, new ministries and faith communities are being birthed, communities and lives are being transformed, and justice for all God’s children is being proclaimed and pursued. We have worshiped together, prayed together, dreamed, discerned and even wrestled together to seek God’s faithful path forward in these challenging times. And our work is not done yet.
As Paul reminded the Philippians, I, too, am confident that God, who began this good work in you, will continue to work in and through you as Rev. Mark Ralls joins you in ministry as your new District Superintendent. Mark brings great knowledge, experience and a deep commitment to lead you well in partnership with others. Having served as a Missional Network Leader and active member of the District Strategy Team, he knows and loves you well already and will continue to serve you faithfully as your new Chief Missional Strategist.
This week, as I transition to begin ministry at West Market Street United Methodist Church in Greensboro, I go with an even clearer sense of calling, with a deeper commitment to ministry and community partnerships, and with a bolder vision of God’s Beloved Community because of my life and ministry among you.
Thank you for the many expressions of love and gratitude you have given me over the past few weeks, for the farewell “parade” on Sunday and the cards, calls, texts, and emails. And thank you for the beautiful stole created for me by our dear sister and friend, Julie Bagamary. Every time I wear it, I will think of you and give thanks for our shared life and ministry.
These are strange and difficult times for transitions. Undoubtedly, the months and years ahead will stretch and challenge us as the Church to remain faithful in bold, prophetic, and innovative ways. We can never- we should never- go “back to the way things used to be.” Instead, God is calling us, God is calling you as the Blue Ridge District, to focus forward, always widening God’s embrace, to speak boldly in the face of injustice, to live humbly in the face of power and arrogance, and to love graciously in all times toward all people. As you do so, the words of Paul once again speak clearly my hope for you:
Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you have learned and heard and seen… and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4: 8-9
Shalom to you, my friends…

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