This was an amazing weekend. 581 people and one sports mascot gathered on Monday night to honor my dad’s 45 years of ministry as a Bethel Lutheran Church pastor and Bethel Horizons camp executive director.
My mom said this morning that she felt drenched with love. I feel that too – and fatigue is starting to soak in as well – so tonight isn’t a time for new words. But in honor of my dad’s first day of retirement (May 1), I wanted to share the brief statement I gave as part of Bjorn’s, Dara’s, and my family reflection on Monday. Here’s to the horizon.
Monday, April 29
Well before my father coaxed an attendance estimate out of the gleefully secretive planning committee, I knew this room would be full. My dad has made an impact on a great many lives, and I’m a very proud daughter.
The impact came through countless meetings, cups of coffee, and handshakes. But above all, this room is full because my dad believes that people can grow.
My dad knows that anyone, of any background, means, or status, can help. There’s a place for everyone to start, from painting boards to calming campers with a bedtime story. What’s more, there’s a place for everyone to grow, and a place for second chances after poor choices.
My dad expects quality, care, compassion, and drive from the people he works with – and from himself. With his expectation of excellence, he opens the possibility for it, a space to grow – a horizon if you will.
This horizon has the breadth it does – and brings the freedom it does – because it is not bound by physical place. Bethel Horizons holds holy places for many of us, from Rockledge cliff to the soccer field where so many fishies crossed the pond on summer Monday evenings. But the holiness of places, and our capacity for wholeness, and our ability to find growth…just IS.
That truth – that goodness just IS – is the crux of faith, and it’s what has empowered my dad to do what he’s done. He didn’t invent forgiveness or community or harmony. He just made a place for it, and invited others in.
Thank you, Dad, for believing in horizons. May we all continue to open them.