Over the summer, I have tried to stay focused on the present work of FPC. But with October 14 approaching, I find myself playing the mind games of analyzing the past 18 years and trying to anticipate what retirement really is.
I have loved hearing from “the ranks of the retired!” You have shared your stories and offered advice (mostly good) on what to expect and pitfalls to avoid. Thanks for not wanting me to “flunk” retirement!
Many have asked about our plans and what I will do in retirement. I have promised Cathy (and myself) that I won’t do anything church-related for a year. After that, I will see how I feel.
One retirement guru says that before retirement a person is focused on the things one has to do; after retirement a person focuses on what one wants to do. Of course, Cathy and I hope there will be travel, more time with family and grandkids, more time to read, play golf and explore some family genealogy.
It is hard for me to imagine a life that does not revolve around “getting ready for Sunday.” For me that has meant preparing about 1,600 sermons over 39 years. I sometimes call sermon preparation “tyranny” because it is a relentless weekly discipline that demands my absolute attention. Yet, I love the process of getting ready for something important: i.e. ….. having something relevant and meaningful to say to God’s people. I will miss the privilege of getting ready for something important … perhaps not the tyranny.
Cathy and I have bought a house in Southport and plan to move there sometime this fall. We have always loved the coast, and this feels right for a lot of reasons. Part of this decision involves being the senior pastor here for 18 years and knowing that I need to create space (geographical and emotional) for the good of all. The Batts have loved Greensboro! However, being the senior pastor does pose retirement complexities that other professions do not have.
Additionally, there are protocols and guidelines from Salem Presbytery that are intended to make sure a retiring pastor leaves well. The intentions behind such guidelines are important for the ongoing health of the church. (I have seen retiring pastors or spouses who could not or would not stay out of their former churches which lead to havoc for the congregation and next pastor.) You will be hearing more about retiring pastor guidelines from the Session.
After I announced my retirement in April, there was much work to be done with Session leaders and staff to organize transition teams and the interim process. I feel confident this transition and interim period is in excellent hands and guided by an excellent process. I am NOT worried about what comes next for you! First Prez is strong and vibrant and in position for an exciting future.
Just a heads up: after October 14, an interim pastor will soon come on board, a congregational meeting will be called to elect a Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) to search for a new Senior Pastor, and the church will engage in a “mission study” to evaluate where the church is (strengths and weaknesses) and where FPC hopes to focus in the future.
I am grateful for these 18 years….
Senior Pastor Sid Batts