Finally, brothers and sisters, good-bye. Put things in order, respond to my encouragement, be in harmony with each other, and live in peace—and the God of love and peace will be with you. Say hello to each other with a holy kiss. All of God’s people say hello to you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:11-13 (CEB)

Nobody is better at saying goodbye than Paul. He ends so many of his letters with words that inspire, instruct, convey love, and are also clear in their finality.

And that makes sense, since the Tentmaker from Tarsus spent his whole ministry on the move, listening for where God was calling him to go next. Sometimes it was another community, sometimes it was somewhere familiar.

Sometimes it was back into a jail cell.

Thankfully, it is much easier to be a United Methodist Elder than to be Paul of Tarsus. But still, I’ve found myself in a position where I am saying goodbye to a community I love.

The bishop and cabinet of the Texas Conference have appointed me to be the senior pastor of St. Stephen’s UMC in the Garden Oaks/Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston starting July 1. Sarah and I are unbelievably excited to learn what God is doing in the people of St. Stephens and the surrounding community. We can’t wait to join into the life of the St. Stephens community.

But saying goodbye is hard. St. Peter’s has been so, so good to me these past four years.

Thank you for showing me so clearly what a church full of people who love each other looks like.

Thank you for celebrating with me when I met, fell in love with, and married Sarah.

Thank you for teaching me what it means to be a pastor.

Thank you for standing with me at my ordination.

Thanks for encouraging and shaping me as a preacher, teacher, and leader.

Thank you for letting me make mistakes.

Thank you for letting me take risks with you that succeeded.

Thank you for giving me mentors, role models, and friends that will truly last a lifetime. I will carry a lot of who you are with me, because it’s part of who I am, too.

In the next couple months, I’ll say more personal goodbyes. But it really is hard to top Paul. So may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

5 thoughts on “Benediction

  1. We are looking forward to you at St. Stephens. I enjoyed Holy Conversations …. Tough Issues. We dearly love Rev. Otto but I am sure we will dearly love you too. I am looking forward to helping you and St. Stephens any way I can.


  2. We will miss your smiling face, encouraging words and wish you nothing but the best as you make this new journey in life!


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