St Edmund's Episcopal Church San Marino

On Saying Goodbye

Ron Harrington, Senior Warden

We will soon be saying goodbye to Fr. George, our rector, pastor and friend for the last 23 years. We certainly hope that you are making plans now to attend the celebration of his service to St. Edmund’s Parish after the 10:00 service on April 29. It promises fun with friends, good food and drink, and perhaps a few surprises.

But it is also a chance to truly say goodbye. After that service, Fr. George will no longer be the rector at St. Edmund’s, and will have to devote his full time and attention to his new flock at St. Paul’s Church in San Miguel de Allende. The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Los Angeles have guidelines that govern the relationship between rectors and former parishes, important to understand in order to perhaps avoid hurt feelings or misunderstandings.

The principles driving these guidelines are fairness and respect for all parties: the congregations of St. Edmund’s and St. Paul’s, Fr. George, and St. Edmund’s new clerical leadership. We will need time to grieve and transition to new leadership; St. Paul’s, time to celebrate and embrace their new rector; Fr. George, space to devote his full time and attention to fresh responsibilities, to a new people, city and country. At the same time, our next rectors, interim and permanent, will deserve full and complete authority at St. Edmund’s.

What this means for us is a sad and complete parting with Fr. George. He will no longer be able to officiate at baptisms, weddings and funerals at St. Edmund’s, for example, even if travel allowed him to do so. Requests for Fr. George’s participation in any role will need to be directed to the new leadership at St. Edmund’s, not to Fr. George. We should not try to ask his advice on parish matters, and should be discreet and respectful in expressing our opinions to him.

Though he will always remain our friend, we should expect that he would not initiate much social conversation with us, again out of respect to both the congregation during transition and our new St. Edmund’s leadership.

So, it is up to us to savor Fr. George’s remaining weeks here, especially those few coming sermons. Be ready to celebrate together on April 29, and to hug and say goodbye.