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Thankful for Joby Morgan

Dear Joby,

If I were going to express my thankfulness for the season that we spent together working as colleagues, I suppose I would say that those 21 years ended in 2013. But, in fact, our partnership in ministry, though more sporadic, has continued for the last 10 years. Therefore, I am celebrating not just your faithful ministry to Bethlehem for 30 years, but, more personally, your friendship and ministry to me and with me during all of this time.

It would feel strange to me to describe our relationship during these years mainly in terms of professional collegiality. Rather, I look back on it as a relationship of friendship and encouragement. You have been a steadfast friend and an ever-present encourager. When I say that, I have particular things in mind that have given your friendship and your encouragement a peculiar kind of strength and helpfulness to me.

First, during these years you have had the gift of foresight that spared me many mistakes and fumblings. You saw things coming—all kinds of things—and alerted me, time and again, in a way that enabled me to do my pastoral work more effectively.

Second, you have been an outstanding planner in a way that has lifted the burden of countless details off of me at those times when I needed to give myself to message preparation, or to face-to-face crisis intervention, or to the ministry of comfort in a season of loss. I have been able to roll onto you the practical dimensions of funerals and weddings and other events, in which, in my memory, you never dropped the ball.

Third, you have consistently manifested what I would call a discerning sensitivity to the spirit of the moment, and the particular tone and event or a situation called for. I never had to worry that in any of your planning or communication or artistic creations (for example, funeral worship folders) there would be a careless word, or an inept communication, or a shoddy presentation.

Fourth, during these years you have matured into the kind of humble, confident counselor that is un-intimidated by my leadership, and therefore rich with helpful counsel concerning personal and relational and ministry matters. I have always benefited from your wise perspective on what is happening on the staff and in the church.

Fifth, you have proved to be a sturdy pillar in the house of God through the worst and the best of times. How easy it would have been, at times, to walk away from some of the challenges that we faced. But you never did. You proved to be a rock in the storms, and a steady voice of confidence in God, and wisdom in the Spirit.

For these reasons, and more, I regard your friendship and your encouragement with a heartfelt thankfulness that has deep roots. God has been good to me. And you are one of the great gifts of these recent decades. Thank you.

Pastor John