Due to the recent news that I have been appointed to serve a different congregation this June, I thought I would head off some bogus reasons that are floating out there about why I am moving. Sorry conspiracy theorists, but this is too important to not address. The truth must prevail.
Bogus Reasons Why I Am Moving
#10 - I want to serve every "First" United Methodist Church in the Conference.
Since this will only be my 2nd First congregation and there are over one zillion "First" United Methodist Churches in our conference and I am middle aged, I would need to average four moves per month over the remaining years of my pastoral career to cross this off my bucket list. It is true that I have a longing to serve every "Third" United Methodist Church but I don't think I am going to reach that goal either at the rate I'm going.
#9 - I am upset with the decision to change the place where our church buys our Fellowship Time donuts.
Actually, this is one of the reasons why I fought against my move to a new congregation. Are you kidding me? I bit into one of our new donuts during a recent Sunday morning and that sucker was cream filled! Yum!
#8 - The church has not honored my request to serve ham loaves at every single church function.
It's interesting that two of the top ten bogus rumors deal with food related reasons for the announcement of my departure. While it's true that I have completed over a thousand suggestion comment cards for our church to serve ham loaves at every single church function including the men's prayer breakfasts, even I know that for the 3 to 5 people in our church who don't like ham loaves, you have to think of the greater good.
Have you ever been to the parking lot at Athens First UMC? Ok, next time you are at the Lancaster Post Office, look at that parking lot and imagine only 1/3 of that little space. That's the size of the Athens First parking lot.
#6 - I have run out of sermon illustrations.
Not true! Yes, I have run out of my very best heart tugging type of sermon illustrations but I still have a whole computer file of above average illustrations left for future use.
#5 - I want to find a parsonage that is even closer to the church.
It takes me ten seconds to walk from the back door of my house to the back entrance of the church and that's even when my backyard gate latch is a little stuck. My new home will be at least an eight minute commute by car, so this should nip this bogus reason for leaving in the bud.
#4 - I have always wanted to live "down south."
On the surface, this bogus reason is actually true. South Carolina is a favorite vacation spot for us. I know that Athens is in southeast, Ohio, but the one degree temperature difference is really not worth all of this effort to pack up and move. I have noticed that you start seeing palm trees around the Nelsonville area, though.
#3 - I wanted to move closer to State College, PA.
Actually, Athens is farther away by four whole minutes. That's a whole lot of extra sleep before making the pilgrimage to Happy Valley!
#2 - Our dog, Lulu is not happy here.
Are you kidding me? She loves to bark at church members. One of her best friends is Rocky Slater who lives next door. Just look at the look of shock she gave us when we told her the news this past Sunday afternoon.
And the # 1 bogus reason why I'm moving...
This one at first glance is believable. Some have said that I have requested a church that is farther away from Columbus. Now that I am in my 27th year of pastoral ministry, I have developed very tough callouses for anti-Penn State comments. In the past, I would often cry and run to the pastor's study when a parishioner would say to me, "Penn State sucks!" but over time, I have learned to wear these kinds of comments as a badge of honor. My new cheer, "We Are...OH!" has also helped me to appreciate the friendly border state rivalry of these two schools.