Dear Oglethorpe Presbyterian Friends and Family, I write to you with bittersweet news. After worship yesterday, I shared with Session leaders that I have accepted a call to begin a new Presbyterian worshiping community. While my family and I are sure of God’s voice in this new adventure, we will miss Oglethorpe Presbyterian deeply.
I have often described my call to Oglethorpe in 2005 as “magnetic”, having arrived with absolute, gravitational clarity. And so, I knew that my next call would be similarly irresistible: not a call away from Oglethorpe, but a call to something new.
For the next year, I will be in Atlanta apprenticing with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s national initiative 1001 New Worshiping Communities. The program is meant to “ignite a movement”, where leaders will be “using new and varied forms of church for our diverse and changing culture.” The process is flexible and shifting, a prospect thrills and overwhelms me. I have learned to recognize these as the hallmarks of God.
Elizabeth and I will always cherish our ten and a half years at Oglethorpe Presbyterian. We have raised our boys here, and, blessedly, you are everything they know of Church. Your openness, willingness to experiment, and overflowing grace have allowed all four of us to grow in faith, hope, and love. And this character of Oglethorpe Presbyterian is the foundation of what lies ahead. As you welcome your next pastor and move into what God has in store, I pray the words of the prophet Jeremiah will be an anchor: “Surely I know the plans I have for you…a future filled with hope.” (Jer. 29:11)
My last day at Oglethorpe Presbyterian will be Sunday, June 19, at which point my pastoral duties will draw to a close. This change in relationship is required by the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, and also must be done out of fairness to current and future leadership at Oglethorpe. I appreciate your willingness to honor this new reality.
I leave Oglethorpe rejoicing in the sure knowledge that we may not know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future.
Grace and Peace,
Marthame Sanders, Pastor