Pastor's E-Letter

Pastor's E-Letter

Filter By:

Pastor's E-Letter 06/19/20

main image

Dear Church Family,

 Last Saturday, I attended a small, outdoor wedding for a very dear friend, a covenant sister of over 25 years. Have no fear. We were appropriately socially distanced. But as all my covenant sisters agreed, nothing was going to keep us from celebrating this incredibly joyous occasion. One of my covenant sisters officiated the ceremony where she read from Isaiah 43, “But now, thus says the Lord, he who created you…he who formed you…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” And then later in the chapter, “Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it.” And we all wept with joy at the power of God to redeem, to transform pain into strength, sadness into joy, heartbreak into a new, abundant, joyful life. That is exactly what God had done and is doing in the lives of the two who were joined in a loving marriage that day. God was and is transforming grief into joy, heartache into life. 

 Of course, we also heard and experienced those words and the gift of that moment, against the backdrop of the ongoing pain and struggle that we are experiencing in our world. I marveled at the ways that God shows up, the ways that God works even in the most difficult of seasons, to bring joy, hope, life. It was a beautiful reminder to continue to look for what God is doing for our good in every situation. So much of life is a beautiful mixture of joy and hope amid pain and sadness. And in all of it, God is working.

 I also pondered this on Sunday afternoon as we said goodbye to the Allen family. What a gift they have been to Suntree UMC. What a joy it has been to watch Augie and Mary lean into God’s call and do everything they could to prepare to take this next step. I can’t deny that my heart was filled with joy and anticipation for all that God is doing in their lives while, at the same time, being sad over having to say farewell. We will miss them greatly. 

 Also, this week the staff said farewell to Pearl Laravea, our Director of Communications. Pearl is leaving our staff to pursue work that is solely focused on her passion, graphic design. Fortunately, she will still be around as she is not moving. But again, we will greatly miss Pearl’s presence on our staff team. She is such an amazing light of love and joy. Who else will walk down our halls and sing our names to us? 

 But we know that God will work for our good in these transitions. Nothing is outside of God’s care. So, we trust that as God blesses these folks in their new ventures, God will also bless the ministry of Suntree with new folks to carry God’s vision forward. 

 So, we are continuing the search for a Director of Outreach Ministry, which has already been posted. In the future, this position will be under the supervision of our associate pastor, Allee Willcox. In the meantime, Allee will be overseeing our Outreach Ministry along with several faithful servants who are working to ensure this ministry continues to move forward. 

 We are also currently re-imagining our communications position description to be sure that it reflects our current needs in the ever-changing world of communications. We will post that position opening soon. In the meantime, we are grateful to Morgan Wood, a member of Suntree UMC, and a teacher on summer break, who will be serving in this area on a part-time, interim basis over the summer. This gives us the time and space to hire the right person for the new position. 

 Transitions are hard for sure. But God uses transitions to move us on toward the new things that God has in store as we are open and welcoming of those changes. In all that faces us as a world, it is easy to lose sight of the ways that God is working. I pray we will trust and stay focused on God’s promise of new things, of ways in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. I pray we will look for and celebrate the joy of God’s redemption in Christ that is all around us, every day, always.  

Grace and Peace,

Annette Pendergrass




Pastor E-Letter 6/12/20

main image
The first time I remember moving was in 1994. I was 9 years old and lived in Flowery Branch, GA. It was a new and exciting idea to move to a new town and get to meet new people. Even then I knew I was an extrovert who loved meeting people. We moved to Warner Robins, GA, where my parents became the managers of a small motel chain called the Admiral Benbow Inn. It was a unique experiencing living in an apartment on the property, just behind the front desk. This was a roadside motel with rooms that you could drive up to. It is everything you're imagining right now. My Mom, Dad, Brother, and I all worked together at that little motel. I cut grass, helped in housekeeping, and would occasionally be found skipping out of my chores to go to the pool on the property. It was a unique life for sure.
What was even more unique was the fact that I would move 11 more times before I landed in Melbourne, FL. From the ages of 9 - 28, I lived in 6 states and 14 different addresses. To say that I was used to moving around the country, would be an understatement. The longest I've lived in one area was in that little trailer in Flowery Branch, GA. Most of the moves were pretty easy, emotionally. School years were broken up in a good way where I was able to spend all my high school years at one school in Cassopolis, MI. One move that was not too easy was the move from Indiana to Virginia in 2007, but that's another devotional.
The move that I struggled with the most was in 2011. In 2011 Mary and I lived in a 2-bedroom condominium in Virginia Beach just across the courtyard from my parents. Even when I moved out of my parent's house, I still lived across the street. In 2011 I was offered my first long-distance transfer with the company I admired. There was a new management contract in Clarksville, IN for a Candlewood Suites and I was selected to run the hotel. I spent a month in Clarksville, while Mary stayed home with our one-year-old son, Augustus, and was about 3 months pregnant with Ellie. I returned to VA Beach and loaded the 16' U-Haul in late October. On October 30th, 2011 I kissed my mom and hugged my dad goodbye. The first time I would live out of state from my family. As soon as I got in the truck and headed out of the neighborhood, I began to cry. The emotions of that move flooded over me as I thought about leaving my family behind and heading off into this new adventure. That new adventure provided a few bumps along the way, but overall was a blessing to my career and it eventually led to my transfer to Melbourne, FL.
I've been thinking about the emotions of moving for the past few days as I began my "lasts" here at Suntree. I attended my last meetings. I recorded my last sermon. I'm writing my last E-Letter. During our staff meeting on Monday as we celebrated this new adventure, I was asked if "it had hit me yet." Has the idea of leaving Melbourne sank in yet? I don't think it has. There are too many things on my to-do list. My mind is reeling from everything that needs to be packed, cleaned, and repaired before we leave. But, it occurred to me that when I load the last few pieces into my truck, I sign over the keys to our rental home, and I pull out of the neighborhood...that's when it will hit me. I'm leaving my family again. Leaving the people I love dearly. People who have been supportive and helped my family to grow. I'm sure the tears will flow and I will thank God for all of you inside of that mixture of grief and joy.
Moving isn't new to me. Leaving you all, that's a new experience. This begins a new season and the scriptures in chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes are a great way to reflect on the many seasons of our lives. This is a new season for both SUMC and the Allen Family. I know that God is in this season, as God has been in every season before. It doesn't take away from the emotions of it all. It only provides comfort that God is with us at this time. I'll be honest, if it wasn't for that faith in our God who goes through the mess with us, I'm not sure what this last 6 months would have looked like, let alone the last seven years we've been in Melbourne. I know this: we have been loved, supported, challenged, and encouraged by you all. You have given us more than we could ever repay, and that's grace. We thank God for grace.
This wasn't the way we wanted to end our time here. This extrovert is struggling with "social distancing," even though I respect and value the very important work of it. It makes this already difficult time, just a bit harder. But I take hope that God continues to provide in even the most unique ways, like a drive-by goodbye. I'm excited to get to see your faces one last time as you cruise through the parking lot on Sunday night, between 5-6pm. I pray that you are encouraged by the work we have done together and that you have the opportunity to hear my last message this Sunday as I reflected on that work. I pray for Suntree UMC and I thank God for every one of you.
I can't imagine what that final drive out of Melbourne will look like a short two weeks from now. But I know there will be tears, smiles, laughter, and fond memories.
We love you. Thank you. We are encouraged by you.
Gratefully yours,
Augie - Mary - Augustus - Ellie - Katie - Will
P.S. I asked for Augustus' input on this E-Letter, and he simply said to tell you "I'm going to miss everyone." Honest words from a nine-year-old.
Posted by Augie Allen with

12345678910 ... 2829