Dear Friedens Church Family,
I am writing to share that Pastor Bill passed away peacefully last evening, and as Jenni shared with me, “with a sweet smile on his face and Lydia & I holding his hands.” Bill was determined to fight the melanoma that was in his body and he fought until the end. We take comfort in knowing that he is no longer in pain and that he and we are in the loving arms of Christ. I know for many of you reading this email is shocking. This did happen so very fast. It is heartbreaking. There is so much grief. Know that as you grieve the loss of your pastor, you are not alone. May you feel God’s deep presence abiding with you.
At this time we don’t have funeral arrangements, but we will share them via the enews when they are available. We know that as a community you will need time to grieve, pray, and be together. We will have local clergy available in the sanctuary at Friedens for the next few days to sit with, cry with, and pray with you. These pastors will be available on Wednesday (6-8pm); Thursday (12-2pm & 6-8pm; and Friday (12-2 & 6-8pm).
One of the gifts of Friedens is that you have children of every age in your congregation. On Thursday, Pastor Danielle DeNise from the synod staff will be sending out an e-news with specific resources for your families to talk about grief and loss. She will be onsite on Sunday to lead the children’s message and Sunday school time. We will also have one of our synod pastors, Pastor Molly, who has a therapy dog who will be around on Sunday for our children as well.
Lastly, in this time of great loss and grief, I am appointing Pastor Louise Hilbert to serve as an interim pastor to provide worship leadership, guidance, support, and pastoral care.
I often quote the ordination service reminder from 1 Cor. 15:58 to rostered ministers, “Your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Bill’s labor in the Lord has been a gift to Christ’s church and to the world. His love of Jesus, like his laughter, was infectious and I know that his meeting with Jesus face-to-face is joyous. Until we are reunited with him and all the saints,
Bishop Tim Smith