Leavetaking Ritual (for a Minister)

Chip Roush

Lay Leader: Our church family is constantly changing. People come and go. Babies are born. Children grow up. People commit themselves to one another. Loved ones and friend among us come to the end of their lives. Individuals move into our community and church life. Others leave us, moving away to new places, new experiences, and new opportunities. It is important and right that we recognize these times of passage, of endings and beginnings.

On [date], this congregation hired/called [minister's name] to serve as our Minister.

Minister: I thank the [congregation's name], its members and friends, for the love, kindness, and support shown me these last [number] years.  I ask forgiveness for the mistakes I have made. I am grateful for the ways my leadership has been accepted. As I leave, I carry with me all that I have learned here.

People:  We receive your thankfulness, offer forgiveness, and accept that you now leave to minister elsewhere. We express our gratitude for your time among us. We ask your forgiveness for our mistakes.  Your influence on our lives will not leave us at your departure. 

Minister: I forgive you and accept your gratitude, trusting that our time together and our parting are all part of Life’s evolution.

Lay Leader (addressing the congregation):  Do you, the members and friends of the [congregation's name], release Rev. [minister's name] from the duties of position?

People:  We do.

Lay Leader: Do you offer your encouragement for his ministry serving the [minister's next congregation]?

People: We do.

Lay Leader (addressing the minister):  Do you, [minister], release this church from turning to you and depending on you? 

Minister: I do.

Lay Leader: Do you offer your encouragement for the continued ministry here and on the relationship with another who will come to serve? 

Minister:  I do.

Maggie: We give thanks for the moments we have shared with [name]—in worship, in learning, in service. We pray that his journey will be safe and meaningful as he moves to a new and unknown place.

People:  So may we be.