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A Letter from the Senior Associate Minister to Presbytery

A Season for Everything
June 11, 2015

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Faith,

By now you have probably heard that I will be leaving my ministry at Pittsburgh Presbytery to work for the Board of Pensions.  As I am preparing for this transition, I now have to do the unenviable task of cleaning out my office.  Looking at the books on my shelves I am reminded of the various seasons of ministry I have had spanning over 32 years.  I see books from my Princeton Theological Seminary days.  Other books remind me of the three wonderful churches I have pastored in Troy, NY, in Buffalo, NY, and then Hampton PC here in Pittsburgh Presbytery.  Then there are the books I accumulated during my ministry to pastors and congregations in Pittsburgh Presbytery over these past eight years.  As I pondered the various seasons of my ministry, the following scripture came to mind from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes.

 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
4     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

I realize being called by God does not mean we necessarily do the same ministry for our entire lives.  We might serve God for a lifetime but in different ways. Even pastors who serve a particular church for 30 years or more tell me how their ministry changed over the years and talk about the “seasons” of ministry they have experienced, each season having its own joys and challenges.

As I enter a new season of ministry, I understand I must let go of certain things and begin to bring new things into my life if I am going to be faithful to God for the next leg of the journey.  I am going to let go of some books I have been hanging onto for years, not so much for their use, but for the memories they give me of ministry and people past.  This is a time for me to “weep and laugh,” to “keep and to throw away,” a time to “plant and uproot,” a time to prepare for the new adventure God has in store for me.  This is how I will spend my summer.  But here are a few things I might suggest we all do over the summer.

A list of things to do during the summer:

By the end of the summer, I hope our bookshelves will have been refreshed and our lives filled with new joys, new friends, and with thoughts of the new adventures God has in store for us all.  May every season of ministry for each of you be full.

In Christ’s service,

The Rev. Dr. Douglas E. Portz, Senior Associate Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery

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