Monday, May 15, 2017

Farewell Letter to St. Peter's and St. John's Lutheran Churches

The Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 14, 2017

To the members of St. John’s and St. Peter’s Lutheran Churches,
It is with both joy and sadness that I announce that the Lord has led me to accept the call to serve as Pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in Windsor, Ontario.
We have so many wonderful memories from living here.   Our family was just two people when we arrived, with no clue God had His plans to increase us to seven - plus my mother-in-law moved to town to be with us, so eight really.  All our children were born, baptized and taught the Word of the Lord here with you.  I have gone through depression here and I suffered the grief of my father’s death and the death of so many dear members here.  Yet through it all, both the good and the bad, you have put up with my mistakes, forgiven my sins, prayed for me and loved my family.  In many ways I have learned from you not only what it means to be a pastor, but also a man of God, a husband, and a father.  I would not have grown to be the person I have become without  the last 16 years of having you as dear friends, the flock of God He had entrusted to me.  Which also fills me with sadness as I think about how much I will miss you and the love you expressed regularly for my family and me. 
I am able to accept this new call because I believe God will bless my family’s life and work in Canada just as He has blessed us in Randolph County.  They have ministries such as a food pantry and more Bible classes, and other different opportunities for ministry that fit many of my strengths, as well as challenging me to grow in some of my weaker areas.  
Quite honestly, another one of my reasons that led me to accept the call to go to Peace Lutheran is because I trust God has another man chosen to lead you and care for you, and to be cared for by you.  He faithfully promises, “Never will I leave you.  Never will I forsake you.”  He makes that promise just as much to us as we move to a different country as He makes it to you here.  St. Peter’s and St. John’s are two congregations blessed by God.  He is even now at work preparing you to grow spiritually with a new pastor, and preparing that new pastor for you.  The Lord only knows how much longer He will use before that work is ready.  He also knows
·         the unforeseen troubles that approach the individual lives of our members,
·         the challenges in the years ahead that face St. Peter’s and St. John’s locally,
·         as well as the threats against Christian churches in America in the future. 

Our Good Shepherd who has died and risen again to provide us with eternal life shall also provide the new pastor who will help lead these two churches to face those changes, differently than I would – but God grant that it is always according to His Word.  
The leadership of our dual parish is faithful.  Yesterday I spoke with Pastor Mark Nebel, our circuit’s visitor, and he is ready to work with them.  I have every confidence that through this work, a pastor will accept your call, and he will deeply bless you and be blessed by you.
Our plans for the timing of our move are very unclear.  As most of you know, my mother-in-law is currently receiving breast cancer treatments.  Our hope would be that I might continue serving as your pastor until after her surgery, which is looking like it will happen in July.  Because the school year in Windsor starts the first week of September, we would like to move into our new home before then.  We will also need to visit Windsor ahead of time to choose a new home as the congregation does not have a parsonage.  As our plans come into focus, I will keep the congregation informed.
I will be arranging with Chairmen Dennis Phegley and Nathan Koester to schedule a dual parish council meeting so we can discuss these things and agree upon my final Sunday here.  It is also my understanding that the voters’ assembly of each congregation will need to vote on granting me a peaceful release as your pastor. 
I have many more things to say, but this is more than enough for now.  Please keep the congregations of St. Peter’s, St. John’s, and Peace in your prayers. I have included two in this letter that you might wish to add to your own.  The people at Peace Lutheran will have you in their prayers.  Please also ask God to grant safety and strength to my family as we make this transition.  I remain
Yours in Christ,
James A. Leistico
Lord God,
           You have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending,
                                                           by paths as yet untrodden,
                                                                       through perils unknown.
           Give us faith to go out with good courage,
                       not knowing where we go,
                       but only that Your hand is leading us
                                   and Your love supporting us;
 through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

O Gracious Father, You led Your holy apostles to ordain ministers for the proclamation of Your Word and the faithful administration of the Sacraments of Christ.  Grant to our congregations the guidance of the Holy Spirit to choose a suitable pastor according to Your will for the blessing of Your Church in this place, and give us patience to wait for Your time; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.


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  2. You can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you.

    1. thanks, Andrea. you're awesome. love and miss you much