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Liturgy of Thanksgiving at the End of a Ministry

by The Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

 

D = Departing Minister   P = Presiding Minister

A = Assisting Minister   C = Congregation

 

This order is intended to be used at the chief weekly service on or near the last day of the Departing Minister [D] or staff member. The order replaces the Benediction, as it ends with mutual blessings.

Parts marked [P/A] may be spoken by the senior pastor if the Departing Minister is lay or an associate pastor, or they may be spoken by other clergy or a lay Assisting Minister if [D] is the senior pastor or the only pastor of the parish. Other parts marked [A] may be spoken by the same Assisting Minister or by another.

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P/A. Dear Christian friends, in the book of Ecclesiastes, the Preacher writes the following verses:

"For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to seek, and a time to lose...."

Our     Title    ,     Full Name   , is leaving us to follow another call in his/her life. Today, therefore, it is a time to mark the ending of his/her ministry here at Church; a time to look back, and a time to look forward; a time for joy, and a time for sadness. It is a time to give thanks and praise to Almighty God for what Name has given us in our lives together.

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A. Blessed be God.

C. And blessed be his holy name.

 

A. The Lord makes everything beautiful in its time.

C. Whatever God does endures forever.

 

A. Bless the Lord, O my soul.

C. And forget not all his benefits.

 

A. Bless the Lord, all you hosts:

C. You ministers who do God's will.

 

A. Bless the Lord, all you works, in all places of his dominion.

C. Bless the Lord, O my soul.

 

A. For everything there is a season; a time to go, and a time to come. Yet the Spirit blows where it will. And for those who are led by the Spirit, they must follow. God has blessed Church with              years of service by   Name  .   S/He has been our      Title     , our co-worker in Christ, our counselor, our teacher, our friend. With joy and sadness, we mark and celebrate the ending of his/her ministry with us.

 

C.   Name  , we called you to be our pastor, to proclaim God's Word, to baptize new members, to announce God's forgiveness to us, to preside at our celebrations of the Lord's Supper, and to comfort us with the Gospel in times of sickness, trouble, and at the death of our loved ones. *

    You have provided leadership and guidance for us in the spirit of Christ. You have challenged us with the Gospel mission in your work. You have helped us to mark our direction and encouraged us on our way. Together we have served the Lord and his Church in common devotion to the Gospel. Sharing in our joys and sorrows, you have been important to us in our life together in the Church of Jesus Christ.

The Departing Minister addresses the congregation.

D. People of God, you called me to serve in this place, and now God has seen fit to lead me to another stage in my life and service. I praise God for the time which we have shared together. I have known your love and your patience. You have ministered to me as I have ministered to you. You have been my teacher as I have been yours. You have forgiven me as I have forgiven you. Hand-in-hand, we have walked in the light of Christ, and we have grown together in the Gospel. Our lives have been intertwined by the Holy Spirit, and I shall not soon forget you.

 

P/A. In thanksgiving, let us pray for   Name   and for our life together. Eternal God:

 

C. We thank you for   Name  and for our life together in this congregation and community. You have led him/her by the Holy Spirit to serve your people in this place, to build up your Church, and to glorify your name. We have worked in common for the sake of the Gospel. Together we have studied your Word. Together we have broken bread and given thanks. In thanksgiving, we praise you for raising up faithful servants among us for the ministry of your Church. And we pray that Name may continue to exemplify, in word and deed, the Gospel of your Son. Grant that we, with him/her, may continue to serve you in the Church on earth, and be brought to rejoice in your kingdom forever; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

 

The Departing Minister addresses the congregation.

 

D. Scripture tells us that endings are only new beginnings. Therefore, let us go forth, doing God's will in our respective places, for the sake of the Gospel of Christ.

 

C. Go now, and do God's will. As you have been a blessing to us, go to be a blessing to others.

D. As you have been a blessing to me, so also may you be a blessing to others.

 

C. Witness faithfully in word and deed to the love and salvation that is known to us.

D. Strive for righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness among yourselves.

 

C. Give and receive comfort as you serve within the Church.

D. Give and receive comfort as you serve within the world.

 

C. May God, the Father, bless you in your ministry in Place/Retirement .

D. May God, the Father, bless you in your ministry in this place.

 

C. May God, the Son, be ever with you and guide you.

D. May God, the Son, be ever with you and guide you.

 

C. May God, the Holy Spirit, equip you with everything good to do God's will.

D. May God, the Holy Spirit, equip you with everything good to do God's will.

 

C. And may you always know God's peace.

D. Amen! Amen!

 

Closing Hymn      "Sent Forth by God's Blessing"

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*For a departing Associate in Ministry, Deacon/ess, or Vicar/Intern:

C.    Name   , we called you to be our    Title    , to proclaim the Gospel, to serve the needy, to care for the sick, to comfort the distressed, and to bring God's love to all people through your words and actions.

You have provided leadership... etc.

 

*For a departing Musician:

C.    Name    , we called you to be our    Title    , to share your talents and gifts, to inspire and lead our worship, to assist us in our service of praise and thanksgiving, and to give us a glimpse of the beauty and glory of God.

You have provided leadership... etc.

 

*For a departing Dir. of Christian Education:

C.    Name    , we called you to be our    Title    , to proclaim the Gospel, to teach us and our children the mysteries of God, to guide us in our faith, and to inspire us to love and good works.

You have provided leadership... etc.