Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 4:46 PM on Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Reflections on Homer as pastor prepares to leave


Charles and Karen Martindell

I am starting to prepare to say goodbye and thank you to the community of Homer. For almost four years now, along with my wife Karen, I have had the pleasure of living in Homer while serving as pastor of the Homer United Methodist Church. In the past few days, we have received confirmation about a new appointment in the town of Cridersville, Ohio. My last Sunday in Homer will be June 10. So I have some time to reflect and look back as I also prepare for the future.

I offer two observations, and also a word about what it means, in the United Methodist denomination, when pastors move.

My first observation is that I find Homer to be an amazing, interesting community. And there may not be another like it anywhere. I am an avid walker, and I have loved my many walks along the roadways of this community, seeing the shops, waving at familiar people driving by. The combination of such awesome beauty as the mountains and bay, along with the quaint shop fronts and beautiful gardens, has often caused me to stop and thank God for the gift of living and serving in this incredible place.

My second observation is that the people of the Homer United Methodist Church, like so many faith communities in this area, are trying their best to be authentically welcoming to everyone. And that has been a wonderful element of my work as pastor here. This observation about the church mirrors so much of the tone I have sensed in the whole community. It is a rare thing for people of diverse political, theological, educational (and etc.) backgrounds to be the kind of people who tell each other what they really think. And somehow do not write each other off for having a contrasting view. I've experienced that at the church where I have served, and it has been refreshing.

In the United Methodist denomination, pastors serve for varying lengths of time at the churches to which they are appointed. When a new pastor is being sought (such as is the case at the United Methodist Church right now) the church works with a Conference Superintendent and Bishop to find a well-suited spiritual leader to send. When coming to Homer in 2008, we always said we were committed to staying for at least four years and would then consider our future ministry location based on various factors, including our family and extended family situation. Two (count 'em!) new grandchildren in Ohio pretty much sealed the deal for us, as to the timing of our request to be sent back to our "home conference" of West Ohio.

We are not being asked or made to leave; we have requested a new appointment. In fact, the support and enthusiastic response of the church has been a constant encouragement to me throughout my time here. A prayerful, faithful process to find the right pastoral leadership for Homer United Methodist Church is currently taking place, and while this is a time of change (with all the feelings that go with it), this is also a time of great hope and excitement as a new future is being formed. The vision of community service and the message of God's grace toward all people, will continue through this church long after I am gone.

I'm glad to have a couple of more months to enjoy the community of Homer and the church I have grown to love. I hope "break up" doesn't last longer than the time I have left. And meanwhile, I will begin saying "thank you" to the community of Homer for the wonderful experience of living here.

Charles Martindell is pastor of Homer United Methodist Church.