Goodbye Shalimar

It is always hard to say goodbye to those you love. We read such sentiments in Paul’s letters to his beloved churches. Poets, like Shakespeare, have expressed it in lines like “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” And mostly, we know it from our own experience. Not a few of you have had military careers marked by many “sweet sorrows.” And those of us who followed the call to professional ministry are familiar with it as well.

But this time seems different for several reasons. My appointment here at Shalimar has been very special to me. I will always remember it as a season of healing after the loss of my son, Jeff. I will remember it as a time of incredible collegiality with other excellent pastors and supremely qualified staff. I will remember it as a time when David, always a source of great pride for me, came into his own and found a welcome church family to help him grow and learn new skills. I will remember with pride that it was in these years that Sue, always successful, made a name for herself at Sacred Heart Medical Center. Doctors, nurses, and administrators recognize her competency, reliability, integrity, and class. She has recently started a new kidney transplant center from the ground up, and it is ahead of schedule. And if things go according to plans, I will also remember this as the last move of my professional career.

Aside from the things going on in my life personally, Shalimar UMC is a special church. It is remarkably outwardly focused, never losing sight of our prime directive to make disciples for Jesus Christ. It has an exceptional legacy of making the community a better place, instrumental in starting such programs as Sharing and Caring and Children in Crisis. One day, I hope it will also be known for its loving care of the memory impaired in its respite center. It is chock full of people with servant’s hearts, primed with impressive skills, knowledge, and abilities. And the people love the Lord.

So it is with sweet sorrow that I thank you for all you have done for my family and me, and for the privilege of partnering with you in ministry. I take comfort in knowing that a person of such caliber as Matt Langford is following behind me. If you are as gracious to him, his career is off to a great start. I also find comfort in knowing that we are not distanced by too many miles, and technology helps us stay even closer.

My prayer for Shalimar UMC is that “he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19).

Brian Dale

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