The book of Ecclesiastes says, 1For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  2a time to be born, and a time to die…to this list of unpredictable moments, I would add, “a time to begin and a time to end.”

I write to you today to announce my retirement from St. Mark’s ministry as of August 31, 2018.  My time is completed and the time for a new pastor to begin has arrived.

This ending moment has taken some time to endorse. According to my FitBit, over the past two years, I have walked over 5,000 miles.  Each step of that journey has been used to quietly contemplate my life and career. That deliberation has accompanied me through the streets of my neighborhood, a return to the place of my internship (Germany), and the Holy Land itself.  Now at the end of that pilgrimage, I am convinced that my call to full-time parish ministry has come to an end.

My ministry has always been inspired by reaching out to the disenfranchised and the unchurched, with a word of welcome and God’s love for them. This call was recently revived during my Sabbatical leave through conversations I had with people outside the fold of the church. They eagerly encouraged me to talk to them as they have not yet heard the Gospel through conventional means. I want to dedicate the rest of my time and career to them.

It has been a privilege to pastor St. Mark’s for a little more than 20 years.  We have done much together to fulfill our Lord’s great commission along with caring for each other. We have welcomed a diversity of people who reflect and represent the diverse community in which we live. We have supported social justice ministries through PADS, Yarns of Compassion, the Women of St. Mark’s, COOL, Waukegan to College, LSSI and our Prison Ministry. We have enthusiastically proclaimed the Gospel in innovative ways through music, drama, worship, social media, cutting-edge technology and prayer, all of which have transitioned St. Mark’s robustly into the 21st Century.   I have no doubt that that trajectory will continue for years to come.  I will be ever grateful for your courage, your vision and your resolute support that has blessed so many in and outside our community. Your partnership in the Gospel has been a source of great inspiration which I will always carry within me wherever I go.

Peace be with you!

Pastor Jeff