Ritual for a Retiring Minister

Sandy Hoyt and Suzanne Reitz

This ritual, for use within a worship service, calls for the voices of two lay leaders—such as the Board President and a worship associate—although a single lay leader could just as easily read both parts.

Lay Leader 1: The life of our religious community is fluid, ever changing with new lives, new visions and new possibilities. [Number of] years ago we welcomed you, Minister, as our minister here at Congregation’s Name. And we have all benefited. We have been enriched and grown as you guided us with compassion and openness through difficult times and peaceful times. Today we must say farewell to you.

Congregation: Minister, we are grateful that you came to practice your ministry among us. We laughed, we cried, and we grew as you blessed us with your gift for preaching.  Even though you will no longer be with us, we will cherish the many memories we have shared. We will all miss you. And we are excited for the new adventure that you are beginning.

Lay Leader 1: In order to facilitate a gentle and harmonious transition to a new beginning, we have a ceremony of ‘releasing’ for us all.

Lay Leader 2: Do you, the members and friends of Congregation’s Name, now release Minister from his role as minister of Congregation’s Name?

Congregation: We do.

Lay Leader 2: Minister, do you release Congregation’s Name from turning to you for ministry and guidance?

Minister: I do.

Lay Leader 1: Minister, you are hereby released from your ministry at Congregation.

Lay Leader 2: We present you with this garland [or bouquet] of flowers in gratitude for all that you have given us and as a blessing of hope for the future. Let it be the circle of our love and the spirit of our community that will surround you always.

Lay Leader 1: Will everyone please join us in a blessing?

Congregation: May you find joy and happiness in the wondrous possibilities before you. May you be nourished and sustained by the love and gratitude of all who have known you and will come to know you. May you find peace and kindness in every day.

Lay Leader(s): Blessed be.

Minister may offer words of farewell, or a benediction.