Dear Suntree Family,
Mary and I moved to the Melbourne area on August 20th, 2013. I remember the date because in my emails I found the offer letter to the job I accepted at the Hilton on the oceanfront that brought us here. It was Mary, Augustus (III), Ellie, and I. We got off highway 95 on exit 183 (the exit we've lived near for the past 6 years) and headed towards the beach. The moment we got to Melbourne, there is no way in the world I would expect what would transpire over the coming seven years. I didn't expect to lose my job, career, and, in some ways, my identity just one year later. Mary and I didn't expect to start a small business and work with what would become great friends for five years. We didn't expect to launch into my call to ministry in that first year as doors closed around us and new doors flung open. Our paths drastically changed in the first year. The beauty of that path has been you, Suntree United Methodist Church.
In October of 2013, we came to Suntree and fell in love with the ministries of this church. Mary and I started serving as greeters at the door to the contemporary service and met so many beautiful, Christ-loving people. I launched into serving in welcome and hospitality ministry (imagine that, the hospitality guy wants to greet people) and Mary quickly connected with children's ministry. We met some great friends and became connected with the marriage ministry and the men's ministry. The women of Abide (then it was the "IF Gathering") were some of the first ladies that Mary connected with. We grew our families call into ministry amongst all of you and that is what sustained us through five years of seminary. Five years in seminary, working multiple jobs and serving most every Sunday. We were blessed with Katie and Will here at SUMC. Terri Hill baptized Katie and Annette Stiles-Pendergrass baptized Will. This has truly, in so many ways, been our home and our family church.
Both Mary and I have families who love us, but they are all in other states. You have been our family here and the ones to help us raise our kids, teach them and us. You have helped to mature our faith and grow it into the role of leadership that we now serve. Because of God's work through the past few years and your dedication to the Kingdom we have been blessed to serve alongside you all. We are grateful for the time we have spent here and how we have been encouraged, held accountable, and loved with the same grace and mercy that we celebrate in the risen Christ!
Today, it is with a glad hearts, yet with some sorrow, that we announce our next move in ministry. I will be assuming the role of lead pastor of another church in the Florida Annual Conference as of July 1st, 2020. We are excited about this next phase of our life because we know how good our God is. We know because we have seen good faith, works, and word from you. We also know that even though the season right now is tough, this is the time. My call to the church has always been to lead a church. While here at SUMC I have been able to gain the tools and practice them in a variety of roles and I can't thank our Senior Pastor Annette enough for her guidance, leadership, and the mentor that she has been for me during this time. We are blessed with amazing pastors like her, Allee, Joel, and Steve and all the amazing people we have gotten to work with over the years.
One of the earlier Sundays when we were in attendance at the Gathering service, Pastor Terri Hill asked for people to share their favorite verse or life verse. I stood up and said that my verse was Galatians 6:9 "So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time if we do not give up." (NRSV). That verse has sustained me through long nights and even longer term-papers. It has helped to sustain me when things were difficult and at times when I needed to move forward with the next right thing. Today I pray this verse for all of us, that we don't give up and that we know the good work that is being done here and through us. We recognize how important the work is to the kingdom and that we are blessed to see the harvest. Today, I see the culmination of a lot of hard work. Today, as we look back on just a few short years, we see the fruit of our labors with you. We give thanks to God for you and all that God is doing in this place.
Over the coming weeks, you will see a position for Director of Outreach being published as we seek someone to take on this role. Pastor Allee and I have been working together to make the transition of this role as seamless as possible. We pray for the continued work of SUMC in the Kingdom. We pray for the people of our next church and look forward to being received in grace and love. We also are looking forward to getting a dog, but that's dependent on getting our youngest potty trained. (Please pray for us!)
We can't say it enough...
we love you...
we thank you...
and we are blessed by you.
Pastor Augie and Mary Allen