One of the hard things about pastoring a church for more than 35 years is that you say a LOT of goodbyes, including those to really treasured members of your staff team. Alas, I have another one of those hard goodbyes that I want to share with you. Shannon Rickert, our Senior Director of Care Ministries, Shannon Rickert, has announced that she and her family will be moving out of the area. Her last day on our staff will be May 31. Although this provides a wonderful opportunity for her flesh-and-blood family, it represents a significant loss to her Chapel Hill family.

Shannon has grown into her role here over many years and with great intention on her part. She pursued and completed her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health even as she was working full-time at Chapel Hill. She started as the Director of Celebrate Recovery but her competence as a leader soon led to a broadening of responsibilities that included not only recovery but Lay Counseling, support groups for adults and young people, as well as her own counseling ministry to serve the broader community. Speaking personally, I benefitted greatly from Shannon’s mature and wise input into some important areas in my own life. That story has been repeated hundreds of times.

Obviously, Shannon’s departure leaves gaps and we are working right now to determine the best way forward with all the ministries for which she was responsible. In fact, Care Ministries will be the primary topic of conversation among our elders at this evening’s Session meeting. Care Ministries is a key part of our strategy going forward and we will communicate updates and changes as they are prayerfully and carefully considered.

Meantime, our most important present work is to say, “Thank you!” to Shannon for her faithful leadership, her innovation, her creativity, and the Christ-centered perspective she brought to every healing conversation and ministry. We have been blessed by her, we’ve been helped by her, we’ve been inspired by her (including her beautiful singing voice), and we will miss her.

As always, I ask for your prayers, both for Shannon and her family in this exciting new transition and for Chapel Hill as we listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd as he guides in caring well for our flock.

Pastor Mark