We celebrate this week what I believe is the quintessential American holiday—Thanksgiving. It is a holiday that causes us to remember our roots as well as our present. It is a holiday that remembers. It IS a “holy day” in which we remind ourselves that giving thanks is a profound need inside of us all. A reminder that we didn’t create everything around us and we didn’t “set the table” for every good thing America has become. It’s a reminder that we belong to something bigger than ourselves. And a reminder that we owe thanks to those who came before us.
It’s a time for being with family or friends and sharing a meal. There are few moments as holy as this. It is a sacred thing to gather and laugh and tell stories and to say to each other—with or without words—that we love each other.
It is, then, with mixed emotions that I announce Joanna Cummings will be leaving our church staff to take a position with a sister United Methodist Church in the area. My emotions are mixed because I am so very grateful to have spent these seven years together with her. She has performed extraordinarily well for us and has proven herself to be such a good model of a servant-leader. I am saddened because I, like all of you, will miss her very much. Joanna has been a big part of the formative years of so many of our children and their families. It’s hard to imagine what it would have been like without her.
At the same time, she will move into an exciting new position with a church that will be able to fully utilize her amazing gifts. We were fortunate to have Joanna with us for seven years. And as Dr. Seuss famously said, “don’t cry because it’s over—smile because it happened.”
Which brings us back to Thanksgiving. I hope you will share your own words and acts of gratitude with Joanna over the next few weeks. She will officially transition from us at the end of the year. I know we will create a moment in which we, as a congregation, can express our appreciation. Each of us offering his/her thanks for Joanna’s ministry among us is a sacred thing, too.
Kristin Clark-Banks is the pastor of Forest Hills UMC.