FR O M T H E PASTO R CH RIS G E ORGE - Senior Pastor
In March, Rev. Kathy Dobbins, our Minister of Spiritual Formation, submitted her letter of resignation to our Personnel Committee and shared her plans to retire from Smoke Rise effective July 1, 2019. The committee reluctantly received and accepted the letter, affirming her desires and expressing their appreciation for her excellent and extended ministry in our church. Since my arrival at Smoke Rise 6 years ago, Kathy Dobbins has been a wellspring of wisdom and a spiritual inspiration to me. Her words ring with wisdom that comes from careful consideration and thoughtful reflection. In a world where people often speak without thinking, Kathy is a breath of fresh air. She is not afraid of silence. In fact, she embraces the ancient practice of the Psalmist who wrote, “Be still and know I am God.” She believes in the importance of spiritual formation and knows the importance of listening and learning in a community of faith. Bob Browning, my predecessor at Smoke Rise, wrote, “Kathy Dobbins came to Smoke Rise at a time when there was a heightened sense of interest in exploring the mysteries of life and faith through Christian Education. She played a vital part in helping the staff discern the church’s identity, mission, purpose, uniqueness, and methodology. She always asked relevant questions and gave sound advice. At all times and in all places, she modeled what it is to be the presence of Christ. Her influence will long be felt and appreciated by those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Kathy’s ministry among us has often been subtle, but always significant. So much of it has been behind the scenes, enabling meaningful worship and encouraging spiritual growth. Our Wednesday Night Journeys programs--Kathy Dobbins is the person who makes this happen and has been in charge of the program for many, many years. She graciously accepts tasks like ordering Sunday School literature, setting up for the Maundy Thursday Service, and even lighting the candles on the altar table each Sunday. She also coordinates Sunday School, Circle Groups, Connections for our young adults, and Contemplative Prayer for those looking for a deeper faith experience. She is not on the stage for the Women’s Retreat or The Grand Ole Opry, but she is the one that makes the entire event possible for our congregation. On Christmas Eve, when we all celebrate Communion, it is Kathy Dobbins that has set everything to make it possible…the cups and the bread, ministers at every station…and it goes so smoothly, we sometimes don’t give it a second thought. In a world filled with artificial, Kathy has modeled authenticity. In a time when many people settle for “the junk food of faith,” Kathy has emphasized the importance of real spiritual nutrition, a diet rich in prayer, scripture reading, and meditation. She has helped us to ask the hard questions and helped our church to be a safe place to seek answers. In her letter of resignation, Kathy closed by saying, “I plan to take some time to allow for transition here at Smoke Rise and also for myself and then, when the time is right, I will reaffirm myself as a participating member of this church.” So, we are not saying “Goodbye,” because she is not leaving us. Instead, we are saying “Well done, faithful servant.” In the coming months, we will be celebrating her ministry and expressing our appreciation. We thank God that she will remain among us continuing to share her faith and wisdom with us for many years to come.
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