Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. ~Matthew 11:28
Dear Bethany Lutheran Church,
On behalf of my family, I would like to start with a heartfelt thank you for all you have done to support us. There isn’t a guidebook on how to lead a church through such a difficult situation and heavy weight. And you, through the guidance of the Synod Staff of Northern IL have led in extraordinary ways to support our family and friends and this community. We can’t thank you enough!
The weight of Mitchell’s death has been overwhelming and unbearable, so much so that the burden left us feeling like we couldn’t breathe. As we sat in shock and sadness, we began to be surrounded by those who could lift the weight enough so that we could catch a gasp of air; enough to make it through the next minute, the next hour. Though too heavy for any one person to lift, this burden is too hard to work through without a community. To us it seems impossible to endure such grief without a faith community, and we are more than grateful for Bethany. The church is at its best when we are there for each other.
You have lessened the weight of the pain we hold. Thank you for your prayers, cards, food, messages, love, care, hugs, tears and more. I can’t thank you enough for putting your heart and soul into caring for our family. I am proud to see how the staff stepped up in leadership, how leaders evolved in our church and worked together. A special thank you goes to Deacon Pam Sherman and Pastor John Cunningham for coordinating Sunday worship leadership and pastoral care in our community, to our incredible staff for carrying a heavy load of extra hours with a short staff, and to Bethany Gola, Susan Gavle, Stacie Freeman, Sarah Korreck, and the council for doing lots and lots of extra volunteers hours to make sure all details were taken care of for Mitchell’s funeral.
We turn to Christ in this time and lean into our faith and the promises that were given to Mitchell at his baptism. It will be one day at a time for me and my family. I appreciate the space you have given us to grieve. I am gently returning to work this week where I will pay attention to my needs so that I will be able to lead and support you, and this congregation, to the best of my ability. As I enter back into leading worship, there will always be a pastoral presence to step in if I need extra support for which I am grateful. It will take me a little longer to be ready to preach, but I will soon enough.
Keep the faith, Bethany, God is with us through it all!
Peace and love,