By Rev. Don Dewey and Rev. Susan Gonzales Dewey, Co-Regional Ministers
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
~ Winnie the Pooh
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ~ Dr. Seuss
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” ~ Jesus
Life is full of goodbyes. People move, switch jobs, end relationships, retire, and ultimately leave this world. It’s no wonder, then, that people have found many ways to say farewell over the years. In times of great change, it can be hard to find the words to express the strong emotions we feel and/or sum up a period of our life that’s coming to a close.
Susan and I cannot even begin to express the love, gratitude and blessing we have for the privilege of serving as your Co-Regional Ministers these past 12 years. Words seem so inadequate to convey the honor, grace and joy we both feel for our time here with each of you. We are deeply grateful for the trust you placed in us and we hope that we have lived up to that trust.
When we began this ministry, we had a vision and set some goals that we felt would strengthen our Region and expand our witness together with the Good News of Jesus Christ. One of those goals was for this Region to see itself as one church. We felt that the diversity that our Region is blessed with needed to be seen as a tremendous gift and that together we could do far more, be more together than we could ever accomplish on our own.
So, we invested resources in our wider community by moving our once “deployed staff,” who served as liaisons, to become Associate Regional Ministers with expanded responsibilities for the whole church.
We also set a goal to be a Region that developed a missional spirit. By missional we meant, moving outside our four walls, outside of our comfort zones, outside of traditional ways of being church to reach those still waiting to hear Good News preached to them. That meant taking some risks to try new things and yes even failing with the understanding that to continue to do the same things over and over again and expect different results would ultimately bring about our end.
Another of our four goals was to develop healthy, growing and vital congregations. To help us live into this goal we partnered with Hope Partnership by sending over 60 pastors and lay people over the years to their Leadership Academy, supported congregations in their New Beginnings program and supported others in DSF’s CMS (Certificate of Ministry Studies) program. We developed Transformation and Vision grants; we designated monies to New Church Development from various templates and created our Acts 2 program to support pastors and congregations in expanding new ministries. In addition, we strengthened the work of our Leadership Development Committee, took a bold step in developing the Hatchery ministry and hosted numerous trainings for congregational and leadership development.
Knowing that our youth and young adults are both our present and future church we invested in developing our Loch Leven camp with the remodel of Campbell Lodge and providing support for further improvements across the camp. We were able to hire a full time Associate Regional Minister for Youth and Young Adults and support our young people in Global Mission experiences as well leadership training experiences.
Our fourth goal was to be a well-organized and administered Region. Over the past 12 years we have seen our staffing grow as our ministry in the Region has grown. We owe a great deal of debt to our staff who have brought tremendous gifts of time, talent, commitment and just plain hard work in truly strengthening this Region in all areas of its ministry. Today, the PSWR is one of the strongest and most financially stable Regions in the denomination. We now have an amazing Disciple Ministry Center that not only houses our Regional Office but provides meeting and worship space for two congregations and all of our Regional Committees and ministries!
All of this and so much more has been accomplished but not by Don and Susan, but by all of us working together as sisters and brothers, Disciples of Christ of the PSWR!
Therefore, our hearts are full, we are truly humbled to have shared in this journey with each of you and pray God’s gracious Spirit to continue to guide and bless you all in the future.
So, we leave you with this scripture that seems to sum up our “goodbye” for this season of our lives and ministry.
“We thank our God every time we remember you. In all our prayers for all of you, we always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that the One who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 1:3-6
Together on the journey,
Rev. Don Dewey and Rev. Susan Gonzales Dewey