On January 17, 1981 I invited Jesus Christ to come into my life to lead it with love and grace. With me were five schoolmates who shared the story of Jesus with me for the first time. All of us were 13 years old. The first “adult” I met in the church was the pastor (Larry Jacobson) of the local United Methodist Church in Prague, Oklahoma. (The church is pictured here.) Why the United Methodist Church? That is where my all friends attended. I have been actively part of a United Methodist Church ever since. Yes, that is 41 years and running.
On April 30, 2022 I will officially retire from full-time ministry in the United Methodist Church. I do so with mixed feelings. The most evident of these feelings is gratitude. I am thankful for the ways in which, during my early years in faith, the UMC became a community to me. Both laypersons and pastors afforded me the privilege of serving the church in so many ways. The Holy Spirit was at work in all and through all to nurture something deep within me. While I am retiring from ministry in the UMC, that work of the Spirit is far from complete. God’s sanctifying grace is preparing me for the next season of ministry.
I vividly remember a conversation with my dear friend and mentor, Rev. Bruce Warner shortly after his retirement in 1999. Bruce told me that the call to ministry does not end in retirement, but we are saddled with an organizational church that is not sure what to do with retired pastors. God is certainly not done with any of them – or shall I say us? Bruce is just one example of what fills my heart with gratitude to the Lord.
What am I to say in thanksgiving for laity and pastors who have encouraged, rebuked, inspired, and taught me over these years in the UMC? My response can be nothing other than, “Thanks be to God!” 13-year-old lay persons led me to faith in Jesus. Brother Larry baptized me. David Walker opened a call to ministry to me. Robert Ferguson gave me my first job working in a church. Lay persons like Carol Hough, Steve and Maggie Carey, Linda Jones, and so many others shaped my early days in ministry. I became the husband of Bettina through the UMC. Both of my children were baptized in the UMC. There are so many points of thanks and gratitude, I cannot count them all.
The ministry God is doing in me and through me are by no means done. Bruce’s words ring entirely true now more than ever. I am going to continue in full-time ministry for the Lord. This is true for all of us. Are we not always available to God’s Holy Spirit? My next ministry will simply no longer be under appointment in the United Methodist Church. In the coming days, I will be able to share more clearly about is lies ahead for me. God has called me to turn a page.
Here are the mixed feelings. I enter this retirement knowing that I, along with all of us, are never retired. We simply change the shape and place of ministry to fulfill God’s call. For now, my heart is filled with gratitude for how God has worked over the 54 years of my life. I know that great moments of gratitude await. God’s grace is always moving. Always present. Always seeking the way of love.
Grace to you all!
Peace and blessings to you, Pastor Craig! I look forward to hearing what God has in store for you next. I recall you saying from the pulpit that you are a “teacher”, not a “preacher”. I appreciated that then, and still do….looking forward to what you can continue to teach me!
Thanks, Jean. I am definitely moving toward that teaching vocation. I’ll be sharing in a couple weeks about what is next for me. Be well and blessed in all things.
My brother, Craig. Do know that you will surely missed. Your leadership and years of services within the United Methodist Connection has been fruitful, I for one can attest to this fact. You have inspired and motivated many, I have and to that I am grateful and blessed. What a great loss, but I concur with your remarks that God’s grace is always moving and at this juncture in your journey, I wish you well and will continually cover you with prayers. Vinaka vakalevu my brother. God’s speed. 🙏🏾✝️
Blessings on your retirement from active ministry from the UMC. I know that God will continue to use you in new ministries on the horizon!
Thanks for your support and leadership over these years, Jeffrey!
Wishing you and yours nothing but the very best Pastor Craig as you start a new chapter! You are and have been an important part of my family’s life. From the very first Sunday that Greg and I walked into Shepherd of the Hills … I was changed. I had been “going” to church since I was a little … but I was simply going through the motions. Your sermons Sunday after Sunday were as if you just knew what I needed to hear. Communion took on new meaning for me. For six years I couldn’t wait for Sunday. I look forward to hearing about your next page!
Just a few months ago, I was mentioning to Greg that I wished that Craig had a podcast so that I could listen to him once again … perhaps that’s something to consider!!
Peace and Blessings,
Thanks for the kind and gracious words.
Your wish is my command: http://revcraig.com/category/news/podcast/
Craig, Exactly what I was hoping for!
I am sorry to lose you in the conference
But glad that the connection in spirit is still strong
You have brought much spirit, grace and creativity to all of us in CaNev; may this new season bless you, your family and all those God brings you to
Blessings now and always,
Burke- Your thoughts and blessings mean so much. It has been a joy to service with you all!
Congratulations on your retirement. I was so blessed to be mentored by you in my ordination process and in ministry. I fondly remember our conversations and time working together at different levels of ministry. May you find many blessings in whatever God and family might call you to do.
We entered your church at a difficult time in our life and your ministry brought is how and faith through Christ. You me too a God I never knew through his word. Thank you for being there. I will add my humble prayers for your continued good works. Bless you.
Thanks, Greg! Hit ’em straight.
PJ and I consider ourselves lucky to have served alongside you and Bettina so many years ago. We have been blessed by you both, as have so many others. We look forward to seeing where the Spirit leads you two in the days ahead.
David- Thanks! Be well in all things!
Blessings on this transition, Craig! May God’s spirit continue to lead you into new and exciting opportunities for yourself and the Kingdom!
Pastor Craig, we (The Sorbo Family) wish both you and Bettina all the best. You came into our lives at First Church San Diego and at such a pivotal moment in our lives. You impacted our faith in so many ways. We are truly thankful. Looking forward to hearing your plans moving forward. Many blessings to you in the meantime. ♥️🙏♥️
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