For those of us who attend Oxford-University United Methodist Church, or have visited in the past 18 years, you’ve come in contact with senior pastor Warren Black. Yesterday was a bitter-sweet morning for everyone in the congregation as it was officially announced that Warren would be retiring at the end of June.
“Warren will be remembered as a most beloved minister,” Parrish Chair of Staff Brent Smith said. “Words cannot express the pastoral care he has shown all of us. He will be greatly missed.”
There wasn’t a dry eye in the sanctuary of OUUMC Sunday morning as Smith made the announcement, even though most members were already aware of the upcoming changes. Last week, Warren sent the following letter to members:
[quote] Dear Members and Friends of Oxford-University United Methodist Church:
It is with mixed emotions of quiet peace and some grief that I announce to you, dearest friends, my retirement effective at the end of the Annual Conference in June.
My heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor these 18 years. Oxford-University was the church I deeply wanted to serve and I was given that opportunity. I have been here for over half my ministry, building relationships and trust that will always bless my life.
When the old parsonage was moved (in order to build the new Activities Center), you provided us with a housing allowance to build a home. Our plans are to stay in Oxford as far as we can now see. You welcomed our children, Warren and Elizabeth, so that OU became their home too. You have been with us in joys and sorrows and your caring and love have revealed Christ to us.
I believe, with all my heart, that God’s call doesn’t end at retirement, but continues all of our lives.
- I’m retiring from leading a large church, but not from caring for people, writing and occasional preaching as well as involvement in the community.
- I’m retiring from being a “rancher” but not, I hope, from being a “shepherd”.
- I’m retiring into a new season of life, the bounty of which I can only imagine.
Again, my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude.
- We began 2014 with 47 new families. They need you to embrace them and make use of their gifts.
- We finished the year with a $79,000 surplus over budget. Your generosity made that possible.
- A Master Plan has been approved and a Building Team put in place to take us to the next stage of our journey.
Your commitment to this beloved community has made possible all that is and will be. Thank you for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve you and Christ through Oxford-University United Methodist Church.
In addition to the announcement on Sunday concerning a senior pastoral change, Smith announced that associate pastor Claire Dobbs will also be leaving OUUMC at the end of June to become the senior pastor of her own church. It was not announced where she will be moving, but after ten years at OUUMC, it was an equally emotional message.
During his address to to the congregation, Warren reminded all present that change is a part of life. We wish both Warren and Claire all the best in the next phases of their lives.
– Kate Sinervo is managing editor of HottyToddy.com and member of OUUMC. She can be reached by emailing email@example.com.