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Departure time has come

Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey says thank you and goodbye to God’s people in the Michigan Area as she goes to retirement in Iowa.

Dear friends, when I announced my retirement nine months ago, September 1 seemed a long way off. How quickly these months have gone by!

But here I am – with a house and office full of boxes, address changes made, and two cats wondering what’s going on … just days from loading up the moving van and stepping into a new, unfamiliar, yet exciting part of life.

I first began to use a computer in the 1980’s. I’m sure many of you remember those early computers – with a big monitor, full size keyboard and CPU unit that took up most of the workspace. Throughout the entire time I used a desktop I had a hand-written note taped to my monitor. As computers changed, that note was moved so it still had a prominent position right in front of me.

That note simply read:

 “Success is being faithful in the place God has appointed me.

I have tried my best to live out those words in every appointment. I truly believe that what really matters is not where one serves, nor the size of the congregation or ministry, but how faithfully one serves – whether in the local church, the district or the episcopacy.

And, now, as I enter this new phase of life, that little saying is still relevant. Living faithfully is what we are all called to do – in all phases of life.

“Success is being faithful in the place God has appointed me.

Or in the words of the prophet Micah:

“And what does the Lord require of you? To do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8

That’s living faithfully.

So, from my grateful heart, let me share these final words with you.

Thank you.

Thank you – for allowing me to walk alongside you these past four years.

Thank you – for trusting me with your hopes and dreams.

Thank you – for your willingness to work together … with each other, with your leaders, and with me.

Thank you – for the many prayers you have offered … the words of support …  the signs of affirmation that have upheld me through these four years.

Thank you – for your constant witness to your faith – a faith that continues to make disciples and lives out the grace of God in your churches, communities, and the world.

Thank you – for opening your hearts to these two Iowans and helping to make Michigan feel like home.

Thank you.

As you welcome your new Episcopal Leader, Bishop David Bard, I know you will love and embrace him and his wife, Julie, as you have Brad and me these past four years.

And, just as I brought my particular gifts to the Michigan Area, Bishop Bard will do the same. His gifts of creativity, energy, relationship building, and a listening spirit – will continue to move this conference forward in new and exciting ways.

Please know that as I begin this new assignment as a retired bishop, I will take with me all I have learned from my time here in Michigan …

the joys we have shared,

the challenges we have met,

the times of deep worship,

the laughter,

the music,

the tears,

the hopes,

the dreams,

and the love of Jesus Christ we all share together.

I am proud to have been a small part of your lives these past several years.

The closing words of Paul in his letter to the Philippians echo my closing words to you:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.  Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into God’s most excellent harmonies.  [Philippians 4:8-9 (The Message)]

So dear friends …

 “The time of my departure has come.  I have fought the good fight, I have run the race, I have kept the faith.”  [2 Timothy 4:6-7]

May we all continue to be faithful to God in every place God has appointed us.

Thank you – and God bless you!

Bishop Deb