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With thanksgiving

As I write my last editorial, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. What a privilege, honor and joy it has been to occupy this office and work with such extraordinary people. Experiencing the church from this vantage point affords me nothing but hope. Jesus said that the gates of hell will not prevail against his church and having seen so many expressions of the Body of Christ I trust this promise with utter certainty. I leave this role confident not in our abilities but in the will and power of God to work through us even in our sin and finitude. What better gift could I receive than that?

While challenges abound, some of historic proportions, God indeed provides. The Presbyterian Outlook in its 200-plus-one years weathered many storms, came to the brink of extinction more than once, sometimes spoke truth to power and other times proclaimed false teachings — and yet it remains, reinvented time and time again. This stalwart institution will change again with a new editor with different gifts, through additional mediums, all, we pray, to the glory of God in hopes of sharing the gospel.

I will now be on the other side of these pages, reading and using the Outlook’s resources in my new ministry as senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. I will be praying for the staff and the board and for you, our readers. We are in this work together, members of one body, sharing one baptism and Lord. As we endeavor to navigate tumultuous times, we need each other and I am heartened by the generous support you have given me these past six years. We really are a connectional church, not only or even mostly through our polity, but through our relationships and care. Thank you for making this truth tangible to me time and time again.

I confess, I will not miss the relentless deadlines that come with this call, but I will greatly miss the chance to craft content with brilliant and passionate colleagues. I will miss preaching and teaching in all manner of Presbyterian congregations. I will miss the challenge of writing words for the larger church that attempt to offer meaning in times when meaning seems hard to find. I will miss your emails and letters, even the ones that came with correction, chiding or umbrage. I will miss reading the thoughtful words of countless gifted writers. I will miss reporting on Presbyterian happenings and attending compelling conferences. All of these things have caused me to stretch and grow and, I sincerely hope, to mature in Christ. But more than any of these things I will miss Jana, Leslie, George, Roy, Jen, Steve, Anna Beth and Pam, the gracious and gifted people I work with on this endeavor we call the Presbyterian Outlook. I will miss the biweekly calls with my extraordinary board president, Sharon Blount and the monthly executive committee calls with good-humored, smart disciples and the twice-a-year meetings with the incredibly faithful on our board.

As Presbyterians we know the value – the biblical mandate, really – of working with others to discern the will of God. While I have been the person whose picture dons this page, everything we have accomplished has been made possible through the labor of many dedicated, generous people. The editorial freedom and trust given to me still astounds me. I pray I have stewarded it well and that I have managed through God’s grace to help this vineyard I did not plant to bear fruit in this season of its life.

I count on our paths crossing at some Presbyterian gathering somewhere on the other side of the pandemic. I hope that if you are ever in Greensboro you will visit First Presbyterian. I know I cannot put into words, even though it is my job to do so, all the thanksgiving I have and love I feel for the Presbyterian Outlook and all the saints –
past, present and future – who are a part of it.

I will end with these words from 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Grace and peace,
Jill

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