Farewell Letter to Congregation from Rev. Portz

A Parting Message from Our Associate Pastor for Parish Life

Dear friends in Christ,

First of all, Doug and I want to express our heartfelt gratitude to you, our beloved church, for the love and care you have extended to us during the past months while I have been undergoing medical treatment. Your many expressions of kindness, encouragement, and support have sustained us in untold ways; the power of your prayers has undergirded us and assured us that we are not alone in this journey. Thanks also to the Session, the Deacons, and the Care Team, and to Austin, Kendra, and the church staff for the special care you have offered to us. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you all.

It has been said that life is a series of new beginnings. Indeed, our God is continuously calling us to follow into paths unknown, giving us wisdom and strength for every challenge, and often surprising us with unexpected delight.

In 2009, I was called to a new beginning as your Associate Pastor for Parish Life. In these years, we have grown together in our understanding of who God is, who we are as a church, and what we are being called to be and to do as God’s people. We have faced transitions with resiliency; we have prayed together for the Spirit to lead us; we have rejoiced and wept as one as we experienced both triumph and heartache in our lives, and in our community and world. What an honor it is to be a part of this faithful, dedicated congregation!

This past fall, I was faced with another unexpected new beginning, the journey of cancer. As unwelcome as this was, this time has provided many opportunities for me to experience more fully the abundant mercies of God. I have learned what it is, not only to care for others, but to be the recipient of gracious generosity and compassion. I have been reminded that, in spite of our best efforts, there are things in life beyond our control; yet God’s steadfast love never leaves us. I have experienced firsthand the power of Christ’s love made manifest in God’s people. I am so very grateful for all of these learnings, and so much more.

My times of prayer and reflection in these past months have led me to the realization that I am now being called to another new beginning: on Wednesday I announced to the Session my intention to retire, effective May 31, 2022. Even as I write this, my heart is full, for this brings both grief and anticipation. Indeed, I have dearly missed being with all of you during my medical leave, but in the future, my absence from Shadyside Presbyterian Church will be a more enduring one. I will miss having the privilege of walking, praying, and worshipping with you through the many new beginnings of your own lives; I will miss the joy of being a part of this new thing that God is doing at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in the years ahead. And yet, I am excited for the opportunity to be attuned to the many other ways in which God is calling me to be present in the lives of my family, and in the wider Church of Jesus Christ.

It has been my deepest honor to have served as pastor of four different congregations over more than forty years of ministry. In these years, our world has changed and the Church has changed. Through it all, Christ’s power and grace have sustained us, for we serve a God who will not let us go.

In the past thirteen years of ministry with Shadyside Presbyterian Church, I have been so very blessed to work alongside wonderful colleagues, committed staff, and leaders and members who desire above all else to serve God with energy, enthusiasm, and grace. I will treasure each one of you in my heart forever, and I will always cherish the memories of our times together.

I hope to rejoin you in late April/early May. My last Sunday with you will be May 22. My deepest desire in the time remaining is to have the opportunity to worship with you and enjoy conversation and fellowship, celebrating our time together, and praying God’s blessing upon all of the new beginnings yet to come in the life of Shadyside Presbyterian Church. I am so very thankful for these years spent in ministry together with you, and I know that God will continue to bless you abundantly in the years ahead.

“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you … that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you determine what is best … the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:3-11 sel.)

In Christ,

Reverend Lynn M. Portz
Associate Pastor for Parish Life