Voices from near and far offered expressions of gratitude and praise on December 18 during the retirement celebration for the Rev. Eugene W. James, Jr.
The virtual online event gathered more than 80 friends and family, from across Michigan and across the country, to celebrate his ministry. Pastor Eugene was minister at Northwestern Christian Church, Detroit, for several years prior to leading the Michigan Disciples region for 11 years, the last nine as Regional Minister.
Maggie Mills, who served alongside Eugene for two years as Interim Co-Pastor in 2010-2011, thanked Eugene for his leadership and the support they shared during a very challenging time in the life of the Michigan region. “Eugene is one of the most gracious human beings I know,” Maggie shared. “He’s filled with God’s grace. He’s full of compassion and has a passion for lifting up others.”
LaTanya Bynum, Regional Minister in Northern California and president of the College of Regional Ministers said, “We regional ministers honor, appreciate, and love Eugene James madly. He has been a source of grace, wisdom, joy, deep laughter, and deeper faith for all of us. He will be missed in the College, and we look forward to all of the ways our paths will cross in the future.”
Gifts included a love gift of more than $6,000 plus $1,000 from the Michigan Region. Pastor Eugene also will enjoy a week in Missions House at Crystal Conference Center on Crystal Lake in 2022. Brenda Etheridge presented Eugene with the Honored Ministers Pin, given at the time of retirement to Disciples ministers.
Eugene, known to enjoy cooking and southern baked ham, received a large roasting pan, providing a bit of levity to the presentations. The roasting pan contained numerous cards and letters of appreciation.
As has been the case for 10 years at Michigan Disciples events, Pastor Eugene closed the gathering by presiding over communion during a closing worship.
Michigan Disciples’ new Regional Minister, the Rev. Dr Teresa Dulyea Parker concluded the celebration with a blessing to Pastor Eugene. “A wise man once said,” she noted, “the greatest gift of retirement is the gift of owning your own time.”
She went on, “To move into your own time is a blessing… Give yourself the gift of this time, my friend… To review, to discover, to be curious, to appreciate, to let go. Forgive anything that needs to be forgiven and make meaning of this new venture.”