In celebration of Pastor Wayne Gollenberg, on his retirement....
As you begin this next exciting time of your life, I find myself having difficulty expressing the appropriate amount of gratitude for your presence in and impact on my life over these past fifteen or so years. What is stunningly clear to me is that you have been the vehicle through which God has done many beautiful things, not only in my life, but in others' lives and in our Church (a people, not a steeple).
Many people may see your retirement- your leaving our congregation - as painful, a loss. We will all miss you and all you do for the Body of Christ. It seems to me, though, that some are missing the fact that in many ways you will remain a part of all of us, and a part of our Church, always.
Over the years, you have time and again preached just the sermon I needed to hear at particularly low or stressful times. Consumed with worry over overwhelming financial, health, and personal struggles, I found myself getting my young children up and ready for worship one Sunday morning when I'd have rather just stayed in bed, in misery. I cried the entire drive and barely pulled myself together and into the fellowship hall for worship. As the words of your sermon washed over me, so did peace and an understanding of just how much God's love was continuing to work in my life, even through times of trial. That was the first time I fathomed the depth of God's grace and the words, "don't worry, God is with you." It was truly life changing for me.
Thank you for Tuesday Night Sunday School, which is the reason my family started regularly attending worship. And for inviting parents to Confirmation class, as I needed it as much as my children did. The vast amount I've learned through both ministries has come into sharp relief as I navigate my way through the School of Lay Ministry. Thank you for being such an involved, in tune, and inspirational teacher.
Somewhere along the way I found your suggestion of "wouldn't it be great if we had an interpretive movement performance of It's About the Cross after the pageant" had somehow turned into me heading up the Interpretive Movement Ministry at OSLC (which still needs a shorter name!). Not that I mind, as it's a wonderful "I get to" in my life.
Thank you, Pastor G, for you...and for doing so many beautiful things during your ministry at Our Savior Lutheran Church. We will miss you immensely, but the beauty of your works and your words will remain with us and in us.