At the conclusion of worship this morning (January 16, 2022), Pastor Brent made this important announcement.
My Dear First Baptist Family,
It was a little embarrassing to be learning something so seemingly basic about human emotions, at the age of 33 and as one who works with human emotions professionally, but there I was. When Anna and I moved to Rochester to allow me the opportunity to serve as your pastor I experienced the way in which diametrically opposed emotions can simply co-exist within a person rather than cancel each other out. It was a lesson I’ll never forget, to be so full of sadness to be leaving a place I had called home all my life, leaving our families, and moving away across the country all while being do deeply, authentically, overjoyed for the time I knew I would get to spend with you all. Those emotions just sat there together.
It is time again for me to relearn that lesson.
It is with unbridled joy and with immense pride that I can tell you that tomorrow morning, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary will announce that my immensely talented and exceptionally deserving wife will become the newest member of their New Testament faculty in the Fall. She’ll now get to teach in the field she loves so dearly and which so desperately needs her at an institution with the resources and inclination to give her the support she deserves and platform we all need her to have. I could not be more proud, or more happy to make this announcement. That’s the deep joy.
The deep sadness, which now sits alongside, is that in order for Anna to take on this important role we will have to move to Louisville, Kentucky in the Fall. Anna’s years-long search for a position always centered on Rochester, because we love it here, and because we love so many people here. Alas, that opportunity for the moment does not exist here and the people of LPTS are excited to have her. I have had my opportunity to serve a wonderful community who value what I do and who love me. Now it is Anna’s time to experience the same.
Between the sadness and the joy sits one piece of good news. Because this new opportunity revolves around the academic schedule, there is still a bit of time before we have to go. I have informed both the Personnel Committee and Church Council of my intention to resign effective July 31. That date relates to the timeframe of our departure, but it gives me a bit of a smile to realize that my final Sunday will round out 6 years of ministry alongside you to the day. So we have some months yet together. This period of time will doubtless have a different complexion to the five and half years before it, but it will give us an opportunity to transition carefully and effectively. And of course, it will simply mean more time with you, which I count to be a true blessing.
I add to this cause for sadness though, one more reason for great joy. You. You, First Baptist Church of Rochester, are a resilient 203 year old congregation with a dedicated staff, a deeply caring Associate Pastor, resources enough to do good in the world, and congregational leadership the likes of which any church should be jealous. In time, you will have a new pastor and she will have the privilege of journeying with you through the next chapter, which promises to be full of great joy and important work.
For now though, I give thanks for the months we have before us, for each of you who are now and will always be a part of my faith family, and for the Grace God has shown in bringing us together.
I have a word of sincere apology to bring you from Anna. Before we knew that this moment was coming she committed to pulpit supply through the month of January for one of our sibling congregations and stepping out of that would have caused difficulty for them, so she isn’t able to be here today. That said, knowing now the path that is before us, she wants you to know that when she is done with them at the end of the month she will step back from accepting further pulpit supply in order to be present here with you as much as possible before our departure. You are her faith family too.
In fact, this brings up one last point; one last thing we get to do together. Gratefully, it is no longer unheard of, but it is still unusual that a woman’s calling and career would be a guiding influence in the life of a family. I have decided with intentionality, Anna and I have decided together with intentionality, that we would like for the world to become more hospitable to the profound talents and incredible things women have to offer the world and to begin that within our family. In other words, though I have said it is Anna’s time to share her gifts – and it is – we are not merely “taking turns” here. We’re not rushing off to a better offer somewhere else. If we were looking for a warmer climate we could have done better than northern Kentucky. So yes, it is Anna’s time in our family, but in the world it is time for us to fully and emphatically embrace the skills, the leadership, and yes, the scholarship of women everywhere! Your support for us in the months ahead, your work in pursuing what comes next for FBCR, and the sadness we will all share in parting ways are all a part of a labor of love that will make this world just a little bit more equal, that will elevate women’s voices a little bit more. It is a good work and a worthy work. I thank you for joining us in it, I thank you for these five and half years together, I thank you for the months ahead of us. I love you Dearly, First Baptist.
With deepest gratitude,