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I am excited to announce that I have accepted a new call to Faith Lutheran Church in Gardner, MA. Below is the letter I sent to the people of St. Mark’s. I am thankful for everyone’s support during this time of transition. Many thanks to Pastor Keith Anderson for help with the letter.

January 22, 2014

Dear Friends of St. Mark’s,

It is with both joy and sadness that I write to you. The joy I greet you with is the news that I have accepted a new call to serve as pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Gardner, MA.

The sadness is that in order to pursue this new call I will resign as your pastor. My last Sunday will be March 2nd.

I want to let you know that this has been a difficult decision to make. You are wonderful people. My family has come to know and love both the community of Baldwinsville as well as the community of St. Mark’s. Together, over the course of the last six years, St. Mark’s has accomplished quite a bit. We’ve watched our youth program blossom and grow by creating opportunities for our youth to be engaged with ministries beyond the walls of our church, we have seen growth in our community dinners and expanded that ministry by delivering to homebound people, we celebrated our 60th anniversary, we have done necessary improvements and upgrades to our church building, we have created a memorial garden, we have grown to recognize the God-Moments in our life and we have walked together with God through all the seasons of life, celebrating birthdays, burials, marriages, anniversaries and baptisms.

Some of my fondness memories of my time at St. Mark’s will be the Tuesday morning Bible Studies, the many, many fellowship events, and working with the incredible staff and volunteers of the church.

I have been very fortunate to have an amazing first call experience at St. Mark’s and I am truly humbled to be your pastor.

Katie, Logan, Addyson and I have been discerning and praying about our next step in our journey and we feel God is calling us in this direction. However, we are filled with profound gratitude for you and what God has done in our midst. We could not have asked for a better church family and we are deeply grateful for how you have embraced each of us. You have shown us the love of God in many ways through your kindness, compassion, and understanding.

I am excited about St. Mark’s future and saddened that I must now watch it from afar. Please know this: St. Mark’s is a special congregation with many gifts and much potential. My prayer and hope is that you continue to do the amazing ministry that God has entrusted into your care, and that you keep dreaming and visioning for the future and secure yourself for the next 60 years of ministry.

Over the next two months, in addition to my regular pastoral duties, I’ll be working with St. Mark’s leadership and the Upstate NY Synod Office to help in this time of transition. David Roppel, Dean of our conference is scheduled to meet with our Church Council on February 27th , to help begin the process of calling a new pastor. Finally, thank you for the opportunity to have served as your pastor. I will always cherish you, St. Mark’s, and our time in ministry together.

Livin’ on Grace,

Pastor Joseph McGarry