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Dear Church,

Everything begins with gratitude.

Thank you all for the support you have given to me over the last 13 years. It was wonderful to gather with so many of you for the retirement party, and to hear from so many of the rest of you through cards, emails, phone calls and well-wishes. Truly, only gratitude for the blessings.

Specifically, I want to thank Michigan Moderator Anne McCauslin and CCIW Personnel Chair Anne Ingersoll; Marla McElroy and the team at First Christian, Bloomington; members of our ministry team: Angee Byrd, Alex Ruth, Eli Rolon, Peggy O’Neal, Jeff Parker, Beth Rupe, Clayton Summers for their party skills; Rev. Terri Hord Owens, Rev. Dr. Todd Adams, and Rev. Sarah Renfro for blessing me with their presence.

I will step away on July 31. August is vacation time. I will be on call to help orient our Interim Regional Minister. Full retirement begins September 1.

One final word. It’s a cautionary tale that has come full circle.

Several years ago, I was given an invitation to attend the Eagles in concert at the Cleveland Cavaliers arena. These were not just arena seats. The invitation was to join a family and their company in a luxury box. To view the concert from a venue that included great seats, good company, room to move around, a feast of refreshments, and the chance to hear “Take it Easy, Take it Easy. Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.”

And, I turned it down, because I had a church board meeting. I know, right? Too busy “listening to the sound of my own wheels!”

I have no idea what happened at that board meeting, but I do remember that I missed an opportunity, “though we will never be here again.” If you know the Eagles, you know that Glenn Frey a founding member of the band (and a former Michigander, too) died in 2016.

As I have told this story over the last few months, it has been to remind our clergy that life is more than board meetings. It’s okay for you to accept an invitation to feast in good company with great joy. My best sense of Jesus is that he would have accepted the invitation, even as he invites us to join in the celebration of God’s feast of Love out poured.

So, as I am retiring, guess who is going on their final tour?

Yes, that’s right. The Eagle’s “Long Goodbye Tour” starts in September. Al and I have tickets to see them.

With all gratitude,

Teresa Dulyea-Parker