Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Dear members of the Presbytery of Lake Michigan,
   After much discernment in prayer, I’m writing to announce my retirement from middle council work effective August 1 this summer.  For the past ten and a half years it has been my honor to serve you as General Presbyter.  We have faced many challenges together-- a great recession and cultural shift over which we had no control.  What we did have some control over was opening ordination to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, and officiating at same sex marriages, to the joy of many and the consternation of others.  We dismissed three congregations because of it, dissolved another, and said good-bye to some beloved members who chose not to walk with us.  We introduced polarity both/and thinking and New Beginnings assessment tools.  Just this month the Leadership Team affirmed participation in the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Vital Congregation Revitalization Initiative as a key element of our ministry plan to support our congregations.    
   You are a gifted, healthy Presbytery.  When visitors join us from other presbyteries, they tell me, “It isn’t like this elsewhere,” referring to our gentle spirit and congenial matter with one another.  During the past fifteen months the Leadership Team and I have focused on discerning how God is calling us to be faithful with strategic planning.  I look forward to meeting with you at regional gatherings on May 7, 10, 22, 23 and at the June 12th Presbytery meeting in Edwardsburg when the Leadership Team will share a comprehensive 2018-2021 Ministry Plan proposal. 
    I have loved serving as your General Presbyter and am proud of the ministry we have shared and the transformation we have experienced.  According to my records I have traveled somewhere over 117,000 miles on your behalf, assisted with 115 pastoral transitions, helping to find 64 interim/temporary pastors, and 51 installed pastors.  Now it is a new day and time for me to step aside and allow new leadership to emerge to accompany you into the new thing that God is doing.  
   Eileen and I plan to stay in the Kalamazoo area.  As I retire from middle council work, I look forward to returning to congregational ministry, supporting nearby congregations as they have need. 
   With special gratitude to the members of the Search Committee who called me to Michigan and to all of you for affirming my call to the most rewarding season of my 34 years in ordained ministry: Thank you.
Grace and peace,
Rev. Dr. John M. Best, General Presbyter

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