Gratitude, Growth, Transition
By Rev. Becky Brown | 2023-05-13 | 3 min read
There is no doubt in my mind that God led me to First United Methodist Church of Waynesville just over 14 years ago. I was nearing the completion of my MDiv studies at Duke Divinity School and searching for a local church to serve as my first appointment in ministry. Even though I was a candidate for Deacon’s orders, I requested to be “put on the Associate Pastors’ list” (which is typically only reserved for Elders) with Bishop Goodpaster because I wanted to explore all aspects of local church ministry. I completed a phone interview with a member of Staff Parrish from FUMC, and was invited to interview in person. I was so nervous, since this was my first real job interview for a full-time position. Andy and I really wanted to move back to the mountains, and were hoping this congregation would be a good fit. With fear, trembling, and tons of prayer, I interviewed with a large gathering of members that made up the SPRC. I was not really sure how it all went, considering I was so “green” and hadn’t preached many sermons, and hadn’t presided over ANY funerals. I was at 25-year-old newlywed, and the one who snuck on the list of candidates available to be interviewed. The church wasn’t looking for a deacon, they wanted an elder; and ya’ll ended up with me.
There is no way for me to adequately express my gratitude to this congregation. From my first Sunday in worship, I have felt a tremendous welcome and acceptance. I know my first few sermons were pretty rough, but you all loved me and encouraged me through them. Friends would often ask if it was difficult for me to be surrounded by SO MANY retired ministers, since they thought it would be incredibly intimidating. It was, at first. However, I was met with such encouragement, appreciation, and guidance that those feelings quickly dissipated. Over these 14 years of ministry life together, I have grown immensely as a human being, as a Christian, as a leader, and as a pastor. It has been my complete joy to serve in ministry alongside of such a dynamic and caring congregation that has a heart for service and justice. You have poured into me, just as I have poured into each of you.
When I began my 5-week renewal time, I knew my heart was tired. I hoped to be completely rejuvenated after that time, and ready to continue serving God in this church 100% once again. Yet, as I journeyed alongside of God in prayer, journaling, scripture reading, and gathering with spiritual friends, I came to realize that my soul is tired and in need of much more time to be fully restored. This came as a surprise to me, but I have heard God say over and over again – “You need rest. Not yet. You’re not ready to return.” Therefore, I will be leaving the church staff, effective June 1. I have requested to be placed on Personal Leave for this next annual conference year. Our family will remain in Waynesville, and I will not be taking another position elsewhere. I simply will be going home to heal, rest, and soak up precious time with my supportive and loving husband and our children. We plan to continue to worship at FUMC and serve God with you all, so this isn’t goodbye. While I grieve the loss of being one of your pastors, I am grateful to remain your friend and sister in Christ.