Last Sunday was a significant day in the life of our church. Last year the church voted to give Lee Tankersley, one of our pastors, a 2 year sabbatical to complete coursework for a PhD. This past Sunday was Lee’s last Sunday before beginning that sabbatical. He and his family will be back with us in between terms, but the sending off of one who has done the bulk of the preaching for the last 8 years is a big deal.
Even though Lee will just be away for a time, I was reminded of a statement I heard from a layman I had had heard in a seminary chapel years ago. He told us, “Any church you can leave with out tears is a sterile place where your heart failed to find a home.” Its goes both ways- for a pastor and the church. This is not a corporation simply changing employees. This is a family, in which dearly loved members are moving away for a time.
This was a powerful day in the life of our church, illustrating once more how much we are bound together. One of our members has reflected on this here.
Lee’s farewell sermon is a great example of a pastor’s love for his people. This is what a pastor should be able to say to his people. As we see the beginnings of a renewal of substantive teaching in the church, we must remember that pastors shifting from CEO’s to simply the ‘professional teacher’ is not enough. We need men who teach the depth of Scripture because they love their people and want them to know God. Lee is such a man and his labors have been greatly blessed in our midst.