At age 68 and with more than 26 years under my belt with the Presbyterian News Service, I have announced my retirement as coordinator and editor, effective Dec. 5, 2014. And so concludes more than 43 years of ordained ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Since Aug. 15, 1988, the PC(USA) has given me the opportunity to travel all over the world, meeting countless Presbyterians and ecumenical partners and seeing first-hand the life-changing mission and ministry being done in the name of our beloved denomination.
Just tallying it all up overwhelms me: more than 2 million miles in the air, 49 of the 50 states (sorry, Maine), 39 General Assemblies (the first was 1967, while I was still in college) and more than 60 countries. This cradle Presbyterian has been blessed by God beyond measure.
I know this is going to sound more like some cheesy awards show acceptance speech than a fond farewell, but there are people to thank.
To Houston Hodges, who gave me my start as a church journalist in the halcyon days of San Francisco Presbytery and to Marj Carpenter, who took a chance on a “Yankee preacher” and taught me how to love the truth and the church in equal measure. I owe my career to Marj.
To Hugh Burroughs and Byron Bland, friends for a lifetime ― we have seen each other through all the highs and lows of life in ministry.
To Bethany Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, Washington, where I grew up and learned the faith. And to the congregations I served as pastor, who nurtured me before I came to PNS: the Presbyterian Church of the Redeemer in Richmond, California; High Street Presbyterian Church in Oakland; Mission United Presbyterian Church in San Francisco; and Fruitvale Presbyterian Church in Oakland. They grounded me in the practical theology that informs my reporting to this day.
And particularly to Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church, my congregation since I moved to Louisville. My faith would have withered without the love and support of my brothers and sisters there.
To my heroes and mentors in the art and craft of church journalism: the late Vic Jameson, the late Hal Bray, “the two Janes” ― Hines and Mead, and my contemporaries Bill Lancaster, Duane Sweep, Janet Tuck, Shane Whisler, John Sniffen, John Bolt, Leslie Scanlon, Mike Ferguson, Jim Nedelka and Toni Montgomery, to name a few. There are too many to count and especially to name, but I have learned from the best over these 26 years.
To those who have served with me in PNS over these 26 years: Marj, Mary Henry, Pam (Crouch) Wineman, Julian Shipp, the late Evan Silverstein (whom I miss every day, dead too young at 42), John Filiatreau, Alexa Smith, Toya Richards, Emily Enders Odom and my current associate, Bethany Daily; and support staff (remember what those are?): David Dempsey, Vann Dyche, Carrie Lutes Hellman, Kathy Wolpert and Deeanna Alford.
The greatest joy of serving on the national staff of the PC(USA) has been the opportunity to serve with some of the most creative, loving, talented and dedicated people anywhere. This is a family operation, and I have been fortunate to be a part of a clan of brothers and sisters like no other.
I have served under six executive directors (including interims), three stated clerks and five communications directors. I know that every one of them has sought the best for the PC(USA) and tried their best to be faithful to Jesus Christ.
Finally, a special word of thanks to Eva Stimson, my spouse, who is still the best writer and editor in the PC(USA). Period. She even helped me with this.
For many years I have recorded daily summaries of the General Assembly. I leave you, faithful readers, with the tagline that has closed each of those recordings: “And now, more than ever, pray for peace.”