Outreach Director No More

For the past few years I have worked as an Outreach Director at a Lutheran church here in Toledo, and as of October 2nd I no longer will. The reason why I have been so quiet on here as of late is because there has been a lot going on. Fatherhood is different than I had expected (not a compliant, just adjusting to the newness of life), and my professional life has been taking up most of my focus. Which, in one sense of course it should, it is my job after all, but on the other hand, it hasn’t so much been the “work” as it were, but the side issues of the “work” that has been consuming my thoughts.

At the end of July I sent the church council (my bosses) a letter stating that in my quiet time the morning after a council meeting, I had an epiphany that we needed to start the conversation about whether or not it is time to close the doors of our church. A few weeks after that letter was sent, I was talking to my counselor and working through some of the things and interactions that happened in between the letter going out and then, and I had another epiphany- it was time for me to leave. Through this conversation, and a few others, I had come to the realization that no matter how much I may not want to leave, I am not the right person to walk this church through its next season. Since June we have partnered with another ELCA church nearby and they have provided us with someone who is able to preform all the Sunday morning duties, as well as pastoral care responsibilities.

Since July, we have been sharing Sunday mornings, where we both preach every other week. Frank’s presence in this roll has been one of the obvious ways I have been helped see that I am not the voice this congregation needs, nor is it the one to help through to the next steps. This has been a time full of grieving and frustration. I don’t want to leave, especially now, however, knowing when to leave is as important as when to start something. And I feel like if I were to stay, I would just make things harder for myself and the congregation. It is a bag of mixed emotions.

While I am not entirely sure what is next (aside from an offer of remodeling kitchens which sounds like a lot of fun [not sarcasm]), but what I do know is in the past few months there are a few things I’ve started to come full circle on. Part of the whole deconstruction/reconstruction route means exploring new things, leaving older ideas by the wayside, but not expecting to come back to where you started with new eyes. What I mean by that is, I am not someone that thinks God has an overarching plan (if in fact God exists). So when I’ve had conversations about what is next, or whether or not I feel like God is really nudging me out of my current position, I’ve had to unlock a lot of evangelical language that has been buried deep for a while. Being open to the idea that there is some cosmic plan that I have consent in has been a lot of fun. Sure, I could stay, but just because I can do something does not mean that I should. I did not expect having this still, deep confidence about experiencing what I did which set me on the road I’m currently on ever again. But it has been really great to be here.

So, I will leave it at that, and you all with the resignation letter I sent out almost three weeks ago.

August 10th, 2022

Dear Members of Council, 

As hard as it may be to believe, this letter is not something I wanted to write. This is a letter to share my intent to leave Augsburg Lutheran Church’s employment as of October 3rd.  

As much as I wish it weren’t so, the truth is, Augsburg does not need an Outreach Director. Over the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize that it also does not need my voice, nor do I believe it needs my vision anymore. I have given all that I believe I can give, and while some may think it wasn’t enough, I feel confident that I did the best I could with the support that I had. It has been a rocky road the past few years, and I am so honored to have served here with all of you. I believe Frank Weaver’s voice is the one that Augsburg needs, and should be the one to shepherd the congregation through what God is calling Augsburg to next. 

The ministries that are currently in place (Food for Thought, MOPS, Birth Cert/ID, and the meal) can run on without me, much like they did when I was on leave. They are designed to run with minimal people, the only thing is ensuring checks are cut so that the paid parts can allow the rest of the work to continue.  

I cannot express how much I do not want to leave, but I feel like God has pushed me along through that. One thing I have always been able to count on is, it seems in ministry whenever I’ve had what I consider an authentic experience of God, it also aligns with a loss of employment. There were plans I had for Augsburg that I intended to see through, as I have been trying to lay the groundwork for them it’s like God has kept telling me, “Nope”, and removing the foundation I was trying to build.  

What I know is, my leaving will allow me to continue to follow what I believe God is calling me to do in this world, and if I were to stay, I know that would not be the case. Trying to run from whatever God has called me to next is not honoring to God, Augsburg, my family, or myself. There is a lot more that I would like to say, but it would not be helpful. What I would like to end with is, Augsburg is the place that God used to reaffirm a call on my life that happened almost 15 years ago, and for that I will always be grateful. The wonderful people who welcomed Jette, Evan, and I into the larger Augsburg family has touched our hearts in ways we didn’t expect when I started here. 

I will continue to keep you all and the heavy burden of leadership in my prayers, and I am hopeful that whatever happens, God is sought and honored through it. This is hard work worth doing, for as long as we can do so. To close I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes in the Bible,  

Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts.– Amos 5:14,15 
Grace and peace. 
George Benson 


Leave a Reply