You would be right to suspect that many clergy think that rituals are important; after all it’s part of what we do. In our congregation, we baptize, confirm, marry, bless, and bury our members. Each of those is an important ritual marker, a sort of signpost that says, “We are moving from one state of being to another.” In our baptismal covenant, we even say, “We accept you as a new person in Christ.” Rituals help us to acknowledge that we are crossing a threshold. Psychologically, rituals play an important role in helping us to recognize and acknowledge that we are transitioning.
Some rituals are joyous; others allow us to express grief and loss. And still others are bittersweet, mingling the joy and sadness. We have a set of ritual transitions coming up with JT’s departure, Jane Anne’s retirement, and Marta’s arrival that may feel bittersweet to many of us. In accordance with our UCC Book of Worship, we will be releasing both JT and Jane Anne from the vows they have taken as our pastors in worship on February 25. (Bring Kleenex that Sunday!) And not only will we welcome Marta the next Sunday, but we will work with the Conference Committee on Ministry to find a date when the Conference and Plymouth will install her as our settled associate minister.
There will be some less formal components of the ritual in the coming weeks as well. We want to allow members and friends of Plymouth to have an opportunity to bid each of them farewell. A group of laypeople are organizing a time between the services on Sunday, February 19, to offer thanks to JT for the 15 months he has spent as our Bridge Associate Minister. You may wish to contribute to a financial gift for JT and you can do that by writing a check to Plymouth with “JT” in the memo or you can give online here and select “JT Farewell Gift” under the “Fund” dropdown menu.
Jane Anne has served at the Church of Christ in Yale (Battell Chapel), First Plymouth Congregational Church in Denver, Poudre Valley Hospital as chaplain, Henderson Community Church in Henderson, Colo., Community UCC in Boulder, and of course, since 2014, at Plymouth. We will be celebrating Jane Anne’s retirement from ordained ministry (and her entry into the ministry of spiritual direction). A group of laypeople are organizing a retirement dinner for Jane Anne of Saturday, February 25 at 5:00 p.m. in Plymouth’s Fellowship Hall. You are invited to attend and also asked to respond to the invitation by clicking here. If you wish to contribute to a financial gift for Jane Anne, you can write a check to Plymouth with “Jane Anne” in the memo or you can give online here and select “Jane Anne Farewell Gift” under the “Fund” dropdown menu.
Both JT and Jane Anne have been extraordinary colleagues. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with them on worship, pastoral care, staff dynamics, Christian formation, and other areas as well. Even though I am excited to work with Marta, I have a sense of grief at saying farewell to these wonderful colleagues (even though I will continue to see Jane Anne).
Healthy goodbyes enable us to have healthy hellos. I hope you will join us in marking these transitions.