With all my love!
“Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God!” Philippians 1:2
It is with mixed emotions that I take a minute to write a note to you – possibly my last from this desk – to say THANK YOU for being who you are and helping me to be the best me that I could be.
Saturday, May 11, 2019 – Many of you took time to come and celebrate the last 8 years of my ministry as the Grand Traverse District Superintendent, 1/5th of the Heartland District Superintendent and now the Northern Waters District Superintendent. Others of you have called, sent cards or greeted me at your churches in special ways to join in on the celebrations.
It has been an eventful 8 years!
We were two conferences,
And now we are one.
We were twelve districts,
And now we are nine.
We started meeting together in HUBS each fall in order to build relationships so that we could encourage and support each other in ministries. As part of our church conferences, each of us was given space to meet and to connect with a new friend. We have reminded ourselves that we do not do ministry in isolation.
We supported new missions and ministries from events happening in neighborhoods to serve our communities to new places of meeting and worship being created for new demographics of people.
We supported new pastors and lay persons into new places of ministry and service as they heard the call of God on their lives.
We encouraged our youth from Ferris Wesley and we know many of them by name! LOVE YOU Sierra, Jordan, Sarah, Morgan and Olivia – just to name a few who we have connected!
We supported Spring Splash and other youth events across the district.
We planned events and engaged our camping ministries by offering youth scholarships, supporting clean up days and raising funds to send every kid who wanted to go to camp! You have made quilts, served dinners and had treasure sales to fund the balance.
As we became a new District we added a “Peace with Justice” team to our ministry focuses. This year we have been invited to learn about refugees and immigrants as we have supported Justice for our Neighbors.
Now we are navigating the 2019 General Conference Vote as we seek to lead and to love while understanding our diversity and differences in a world where cultures and scriptural understandings continue to be impacted by our personal lives and our view of who God is.
Ministry does not happen in isolation.
To you who worked to make the Celebr8 a great event, “THANK YOU!” Jack Conklin, Brian Highway, Linn Murray and the rest of the Superintendency Team – you made the day amazing. Thank you for your support over the last 8 years. This body of folks has changed a bit each year, but, the Superintendency team has always been a group of people who were willing to hear my heart for ministry, to ask hard questions, and to support me when I asked for intentional time to be with my family.
Lake Ann UMC thank you for your hospitality. What a great day to use your Community Space. The people you had on deck to help greet, serve food, set up, and clean up were awesome! And with a day of music and worship – Pastor Josh and the other tech persons, you were amazing!!!! Thank you for keeping the day “sounding” great! Julia Deemer – thank you for helping enlist folks to work and for inviting the bakers to bring cookies. They were delicious.
And thank you musicians! From Greensky to Ludington, Lake Ann to Good Shepherd (Roscommon) – you blessed the day with your music and praise of GOD!
And thank you to Eric Falker and the “clergy” plus praise band that ended our day in worship – thank you for your servant ministry and sharing in this special way.
My highlights from Celebr8 were playing the cajon with John Murray – check out Facebook if you’ve missed it – and my daughter teaching a group of Clergy and their families to sign the words to “One Thing Remains.” As they came to the stage – mob style- my heart melted! Thank you for dancing with me!
Denny Olin is winding up year six as our District Lay Leader. When I came to the Grand Traverse District, Mike McDonald laid a steady foundation for the work of a lay leader. Denny took up the mantle and has walked with me and with you as we have sought to build the Kingdom of God in Northern Michigan. Thank you, Denny, for your faith that guides us, your heart that encourages us, and your wisdom that challenges us.
Jill Haney was the first person to welcome me into the District Office. Her smiling face, words of encouragement, and questions about issues have helped me to think and to lead the best that I could. Thank you for your passion for the “least of these” and questions of faith that take us to new spaces, thank you, Jill, for making each of us feel welcome and for answering ALL of our questions!
You can’t do ministry alone – I pray you never have to try and never isolate yourself from the gift of “the body of Christ.” I pray that you continue to dream what only a community can do and that others catch your vision and join you on the journey.
I’m reminded of Moses whose arms got tired when Israel was fighting Amalek. You see, when Moses’ arms were raised (Exodus 17:10-13), Israel was winning. But if he lowered his hands, they would lose. “But Moses’ hands got tired.” “So…Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on each side.” This is who you have been for me and I pray – that God will continue to guide and to bless you as you work together to impact this world for Jesus.
Grace and Peace,
Anita K. Hahn