By Carolyn Peterson
After nearly 30 years as a Christian educator, I recently retired both from the local church and as a clergyperson from the UMC. But that did not mean I stopped attending or being active in my local church; nor, did I walk away from my role as a Deacon. I still sit on various Boards in my Annual Conference, as well as the CEF Board. However, I did clean out years of files, purge my desk and bookcases of personal items, and hand over the key to the CE office to the young woman who has stepped so ably in to continue on the vital CE ministry at my local church.
Do I feel washed up, cast aside and ready to join the rocking chair set? Of course, not! But honesty drives me to share that it wasn’t easy to maneuver through the change even if it was my idea and well planned out. A caring congregation, a generous lead pastor and a family sharing the road made the transition easier. There were the moments when I knew that what the local church needed was beyond my vast experience and my energy to make happen. Or the feeling that my “identity” was going to be lost forever! Through it all, however, I kept these words of scripture at hand: “See I am about to do a new thing”!
From my perspective after all these years, Christian Formation comes down to: relationships; our relationship with God, our relationship with our ministry team(s) and relationships with the mission field that surrounds us. No matter our age or place on the journey we are renewed by worship, connected by love of other, continuously growing by learning more about the God and Christ we follow, and ever ready to serve as God’s hands in our midst.
As the journey continues, it has become much easier to move with God’s plans for me than to go in look for that rocking chair. And what could be more exciting and challenging than following God into the future.
Carolyn Peterson is a CEF Board member and retired Deacon and Christian Educator in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.