By Bishop Bob Bennett
Hello Huron! It hardly seems possible that nine months has passed since I retired as bishop to embrace my new lifestyle as ‘retiree’.
Many friends wisely advised that it might take a season of adjustment to make the transition and that has proved to be the case. First of all, I hadn’t realized just how exhausted I was, so some intentional recovery time was in order. Kathie, my family, friends, lots of reading, just sitting in church, regular exercise and travel have combined to help make my particular transition into retirement a smooth and healthy one. Letting go of ‘institutional stress’ for the first time in 47 years of ministry was quite liberating but I must confess I deeply missed connecting with the people of Huron (each of you!).
Given that as my reality, I was open to Archdeacon Sam Thomas’s request to care for St. Anne’s (Byron) London while between rectors.
One of my dreams for retirement was to return to parish ministry which was always my passion as a priest. (Bishops, you know, are multifaceted creatures that include being a bishop, a deacon, a priest and of course one of the baptized.) When Huron Church News editor Davor Milicevic invited me to submit an article about my four months with the people of St. Anne’s, I thought the best way to do that would be to reprise the words of thanks I shared with them in the parish newsletter. Here it is.
“So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually, we are member of one another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us….” (Romans 12.5-6a)
“As I write this note, it is a beautiful August morning. The ever-so-subtle indications of seasonal transformation have begun; an indicator of what is to come. Surely the best season of all is our beautiful southwestern Ontario autumn!
I must confess that this note for the St. Anne’s Newsletter is a first for me. This is the only time in my ministry that my initial submission for a parish newsletter is also my last. Hello and Goodbye! I came as your interim pastor back in June and will conclude my time with you at the end of September.
It has been over 17 years since I exercised ministry in a parish setting so I thought my hello/goodbye message would include some rumination of my time with you. Thank you for the blessing that you are as a community of Christians striving to be faithful to God’s will in Byron at the beginning of the third millennia. I have experienced you to be a caring, sensitive, loving family that loves the Faith and loves St. Anne’s.
These are incredibly challenging times to be a part of the Christian faith, but God gives us only our time, no one else’s. Since ‘we who are many are one’, we are more than equipped to face the future knowing that God’s Spirit in Christ strengthens and equips us for the task that lies ahead. You are indeed blessed to have the Reverend Val Kenyon as your next rector. I know you will welcome her warmly as you welcomed Rita and me.
I will think of you often and pray for you as you journey to the next adventure-in-faith that lies in store.
You have been a blessing for me as I transition into retirement; thank you for that!
May you be a blessing to all and always shine as a beacon of God’s hope! Together, may you ‘discern what is the will of God—what is good, acceptable and perfect’ (Romans 123:2b)”.
To conclude, I want take that last paragraph of the St. Anne’s’ newsletter and ‘shout it out’ to each and every one of you; the people of God in Huron:
“I will think of you often as you journey to the next adventure-in-faith that lies is store. You have been a blessing for me as I transition into retirement; thank you for that!
May you be a blessing to all and always shine as a beacon of God’s hope!”