“My deepest vocation is to be a witness to the glimpses of God I have been allowed to catch.”

Henri Nouwen

Dear Friends in Christ,

As my final worship service on January 8th fast approaches, there is so much I wish to say to you all. My heart is filled with emotion as I consider the nine and a half years of shared ministry together. It has been an absolute blessing to serve our loving God, this incredible church, and all of you, as your Senior Minister. Lisa and I will be leaving Eugene with many wonderful memories and deeply grateful hearts.

Since my retirement announcement on November 14, a lot has happened in our lives collectively, and for Lisa and me. We sold our house on Brookside Ave in just 2 days and moved out in early December. That beautiful home served us well in many ways, including welcoming hundreds of you to meetings and meals, over the years. Last week, we bought a small home south of Providence, R.I. – 25 minutes from our granddaughter, Lily. We look forward to being close to our daughter, Laura, who lives in nearby Boston, and our son, James, and his dear family. But, we will sorely miss our son, Nathan, and his partner, Thanh, who will remain here in Oregon. Truly, we are excited about our future life together in Rhode Island and we are feeling the heartache of saying farewell to all of you.

During the worship service on January 8th, we will join together in releasing one another from the vows and commitments we made in 2013 at my installation. You will be asked, “Do you, the members and fiends of First Congregational Church, release Jonathan Morgan from the duties of pastor?” One of the questions addressed to me will be, “Do you, Jonathan Morgan, release this local church from turning to you and depending on you?” These vows of release remind us that, although the spiritual bond we are connected and enriched by within the Church of Jesus Christ will never change, the relational nature of that bond will indeed undergo significant changes.

The vows of release are as essential, strong and sure as the vows of commitment that we entered into at the beginning of our time together. They are entered into to ensure the integrity and health of the church going forward and to prepare the way for its important and sacred transitions to come. The vows mean that after January 8, I will no longer perform any pastoral services at FCC, lead any worship, funeral or wedding services, nor discuss or communicate about any church matters with anyone at the church. These vows mean that you will turn to your interim pastors, and then, in God’s time, your new settled pastor, for all your pastoral needs and concerns, exclusively.

In the coming days, the Rev. Nancy Alison will be joining the ministry team at FCC and I know her superb skills as an interim pastor will help prepare the grounds for your transition. In the meantime, the Church Board is beginning its search for a more long-term interim pastor. I believe, with all my heart, that God is preparing the fertile soil that is First Congregational Church to receive a new planting of God’s creation and vibrant Spirit, and the spirit of this beloved, progressive, Christian church will flourish and grow strong in its bright and hope-filled future. I will be keeping all of you in my prayers, always.

In faith, hope and overflowing gratitude,

Jonathan J. Morgan