Presbyterians/Pastor leaving


Hi Pastor G.,

Not really a theological question...more of a personal one.

We have had a Pastoral assistant of Congreagational serve at our church during the interim as we searched for an Ap. My relationship with him and his family has not always been so great. We have worked together on several projects but a series of incidents by one of his family members against me caused trust to be broken.

Needless to say, this has been very painful. But now, they are moving out of state as we have a new AP. In our denomination, a pastor leaving must cut all ties.

I know God is working in my life because I love these people so much. I care about them and wish them only the best. My heart is kind of broken over the unresolved issues and past hurts, but my prayer for them is that they be surrounded by genuine friends who love them. I want them to be happy and I want them to find a great church where Christ's love is the foundation and goal.

I don't know how to say goodbye. I want to do something memorable...something that really matters. One thing I have are tons of photos...

but it's my words, too. I don't know what to say. I don't know how to make this a "successful" or more importantly, a Christlike goodbye. I just don't want it to be in vain or empty or meaningless.

Hoping you can offer insight.

Grace and Peace, Cindy

Hi Cindy,

Well, first of all, I thank God for the evidence that Christ is being formed in you, and you are being confirmed to his image. What else could explain someone wanting the best for people that she has not always gotten along with. The world and our old Adamic nature would say, "Good riddance." I can't find any explanation for your desire besides the Holy Spirit.

It would be very hard for me to assess what would be the appropriate thing for you to do, but you may be on to something with the photos (slide show? Collage?). Vain, empty, or meaningless? But of course, you know that if what you do is for the glory of God, it cannot be any of those things. Those who saw Jesus on the cross thought he had worked, and trusted God in vain. It was hardly the case.

I'm surmising that your denomination is the PCUSA? I preached at a church in that denomination for three years a long time ago, and recall a similar rule. But the "sever all ties" rule applies to the church as the church, or persons as members of the church, not as individuals. You can still have friends! Rules like that are made to keep previous pastors from meddling in the ministry of new pastors. It's to keep people from calling their old pastor and saying, "The new guy is doing this or that - what do you think about that?" I do not believe that any such rule is meant to preclude friendships. As long as you're not complaining to him about "the new guy" I do not think there would be anything inappropriate with staying in touch with his family.

As to the bigger picture of people in the Body that we might not get along with. I would recommend Dietrich Bonhoeffer's little book "Life Together." It's a classic.

The peace of Christ be with you.


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Pastor G


I am glad to answer questions about the Scriptures, Systematic, Biblical and Historic Theology, New Testament Greek, Biblical Hebrew (although my Greek is stronger than my Hebrew); and I am also glad to give pastoral advise and counsel.


A minister ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church since 1993. Prior to that I served as an elder. Former Senior Police Chaplain. College and Seminary-level lecturer.

B.A. Psychology and Theology, M.Div., Westminster Theological Seminary D.Min., Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary Law Enforcement Chaplaincy certification, ICPC

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