This weekend my church is saying goodbye to our associate pastor, Bill West. More than a few of us have known this was coming for a while (it has probably been BCC's worst kept secret), but this week a church e-newsletter made it official.
Bill is an awesome guy, a terrific teacher, and a wonderful leader. Our church has essentially made Bill our boyfriend (which is better than having Jesus as our boyfriend, right? :-) since he led us with grace and humility and strength through the most difficult transition of our relatively young life.
I look back to that messy time and I am even more in awe of his leadership, given that so many vocal dissenters said some really hurtful and, frankly, stupid things about Bill.
But those of us who stuck around found him to be not just capable, but incredibly gifted and anointed. He was a calming and anchoring presence in a tumultuous and tempestuous time. He was, honestly, the pastor we never had.
As churchgoers, Becky and I have come to love Bill as our pastor. As the Element ministry ramped up, I have come to love Bill as a mentor and confidante and friend. We stood in tears with our congregation to applaud when he announced he would stay. We will stand in tears to applaud his announcement he must go -- in gratefulness for his shepherding and care..
Pray for our church, if you don't mind. We do have an awesome lead pastor now, but Bill's departure will sadden, and perhaps confuse, many.