December 8, 2016
The Church Staff Relations Committee, Ellen Bell Chair
Ellen and CSR Committee Members,
On June 14, 2017, I will celebrate my 30th anniversary as the Senior Pastor of the University Baptist Church. Being the lead pastor at UBC has been my honor and my life’s work. Gina and I have contemplated retirement with grief and gratitude, in the trust that God will lead the church to the leader you need for the next generation. With this letter I am announcing my intention to retire as Senior Pastor on my 65th birthday, November 7, 2017.
I am informing you now in order that the church might use the coming year to arrange a healthy transition. Because I am eligible following the last five years of service, I am requesting an eleven week sabbatical/severance beginning August 21. This would allow the church to begin the important fall season with an interim arrangement in place rather than a retiring pastor. In granting the severance I ask the church to consider the length of my tenure and the best timing for the church. If the church is not willing to grant the severance, I intend to work until November 7, 2017.
I ask you all to keep the conversation confidential until we can negotiate closure together. The next step will be an announcement to the deacons so they can make plans for interim arrangements. I will recommend they communicate with Beth Kennett and Les Robinson of the Center for Congregational Health for advice based on their experience with healthy pastoral transitions. Then it would be time to announce the transition to the church. Thank you for considering my request and for your service to UBC.
(Dr. Bethune’s last Sunday in the pulpit will be August 20, 2017. UBC will celebrate Dr. Bethune’s ministry after worship on September 24, 2017.)