I'll give you the details later in this post, but I'll get to the bottom line first: I decided to take the appointment. Beginning July 1, I will once again be a pastor.
After I talked to both District Superintendents, Harry and I spent the weekend praying and talking and discerning. I spoke with a few close clergy friends (poor Mac and Helen; they bore the brunt of my angst and questions. I think I called Mac about four times over the weekend) who offered comfort and wisdom. By Monday morning, Harry and I had decided to move forward with the appointment. I called Essie, and she scheduled a "Meet Your Pastor" meeting for the next week.
Then, on Monday night, Harry looked at me and said, "I can't do this." Meaning move to the Eastern Shore, live in a parsonage, and possibly subject ourselves to what we had experienced before. He changed his mind, but seeing his anguish made me question whether or not I should take this appointment or not. I spent a couple hours with Mac the next day, venting and processing, and he said something that made a huge difference: "before you call Essie and cancel the meeting, make a plan for how you will spend the next year." So, I began thinking and planning. I didn't really want to stay at BTUMC if Mac wasn't going to be there, and didn't know how the next pastor would feel about me. Mac's new church was still an unknown, so he couldn't promise me any sort of significant role there (plus, since it's the church I attended for a year, I knew that he probably wouldn't need me). My friend Prisca said that I could be an unpaid staff member at her church, and she even had a ministry opportunity for me. I also looked at a few part-time ministry positions on my current district.
But...in doing all of that, I felt somewhat depressed. I felt like I was back where I had been two years ago, when I was still discerning what God wanted me to do for the rest of my life. However, I knew what God wanted me to do; I knew what I wanted to do: be a pastor. And since Harry was willing to move with me and support me, I didn't feel like I had a really valid reason to turn down the appointment...besides fear. This was the first roadblock I had encountered in my process of returning to full-time ministry. Except for this one issue, I was getting green lights everywhere else.
So, with Harry's support and my sense that this was God's will, I met with the Pastor Parish Relations Committee of my new appointment. There are two churches, which I'll call Cherry UMC and Bayside UMC (C and B to be short). The meeting went really well...I think this is a really good match for my gifts, and the people seem very gracious. I like Essie (my new DS) and also like Daisy (my code name for my PPR chair).
We've seen the parsonage (it's OK, but we'll miss our home) and we're hoping to be able to rent our house to a friend who is moving to this area. We can't sell it, and really don't want to rent it to total strangers, in case they trash it. I have the kids enrolled in a local daycare/preschool, and they start on July 2.
I'm going to be a pastor again. While it is very scary, it also feels very RIGHT.