In United Methodist world, we call this moving season. Our tradition practices “itinerancy” which is a fancy word for saying that we pastors go where we are sent by the Bishop. Five years ago, I was sent to Winfield to pastor Grace UMC. This year, I have been sent to be pastor of St. Paul’s UMC in Lenexa beginning July 1, and this will be my last Sunday at Grace.
It is a weird thing to box up memories, to put away the everyday things of life, and wait to open them in my new home, new office, and new adventure.
There are also things I’ll take with me from my time in Winfield that won’t fit in boxes — like the anticipation that my neighborhood feels when the Southwestern College students arrive back in town or the eclectic vibes that happen come September in Winfield as the Festival amps up. I won’t be able to box up the way it feels to walk into College Hill Coffee and be known and know the majority of the folks there. The way this community shows up for a funeral, engages in local community service, and cares for one another is not something that can be sealed for my journey with packing tape.
But I hope to carry with me these experiences. My understanding of God and God’s people has deepened through my time in Winfield. I have seen the body of Christ seek justice through programs like Save Our Schools and through education around racial justice and LGBTQ inclusion. I have seen the Spirit move through intergenerational relationships at Cumbernauld Village. I have seen God at work in all of you in so many ways.
Thank you, Winfield and Cowley County, for giving me a glimpse of grace as God’s kingdom breaks through in this place.
The Rev. Lora Andrews is pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Winfield.