That’s really all this article is going to say, so if you’re short on time, you can skip ahead to the other things. I am just thankful and grateful for this community called Newberg Friends Church.
Thank you for the ways you have shaped me. I started attending as a college freshman and experienced the nearness of God in ways I hadn’t before. Some of you (and some who have already ended their time here on this earth) mentored me by example. As a brand new pastor at age 25, you trusted me with your kids and let me try to learn how to speak. You were patient with me when I came here, way over my head, at 34 to be lead pastor. You have let me walk with some of you through painful and holy moments. You have shown me the love of Jesus.
Thank you for allowing me the freedom of a sabbatical this summer. There were many days that I was here in Newberg, and you let me be Gregg when you saw me, without any expectations of the role of pastor.
Thank you to every one of you on the staff. I know (from what you’ve told me) of many ways you did extra things because I was gone. I even know some of the things you did that you haven’t told me, ways you went above and beyond to serve because you love our church and you love the people here. It’s a gift to work alongside people who love Jesus and love this church and offer your many gifts, talents, and skills.
The biggest unexpected gift of my time away happened in the last two weeks before I came back. I realized I really missed the people of our church! I don’t come back out of duty or with a sense of dread—I come back with joy to the people and community I most want to journey with, following the Holy Spirit to do as God leads in our town and our world. May we do just that, with love and joy and freedom and passion.