I’m headed to Houston, Texas, today. My best friend is leaving the church where she has served as Rector for twenty-one years. She’s accepted a new call as a member of the diocesan staff of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.
Twenty-one years! That a very long time for a parish and its rector to be in relationship.
I was present when she was installed as rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Cypress, Texas. I shall be there for her last Sunday as Rector.
In the Episcopal Church’s Book of Occasional Services, there is liturgy for the departure of a rector. It’s a Service for the Ending of a Pastoral Relationship and Leave-taking from a Congregation. I have been to one “leaving service” and I found it to be one of the most meaningful and meaning-filled liturgies I’ve ever experienced. This liturgy soothes the separation of the rector and parish, while recognizing the life they have shared.
This parish has been my parish-away-from home parish. It became a parish to me after I moved from Houston, as I have returned often over the past fifteen years. I have found nourishment and solace in this place. I’ve also found joy and welcome. In a sense I am leave-taking from this place, just my best friend is doing.
Before we get to the leave-taking service itself, I understand we’ll be pretty busy. There is her office to pack up. There is a wedding rehearsal and wedding ceremony to attend as she will serve as the co-officiant.
And of course, there has to be time for a number of Tex-Mex meals!