Goodbye Ritual (for Minister Retiring or Leaving)
Please note: this ritual was preceded by the departing minister's homily, in which she looked back at the installation service and the promises they had made to each other as minister and congregation. She then continued as follows. This language might not be the most authentic words for you and/or your ministry.
That’s a pretty good set of promises, and a pretty tall order. I wonder we remembered then that I’m only human and would fail at times in keeping those promises? Well, a promise is still a good thing to make, even when we know we won’t keep it as faithfully as we might like.
Right now, I’d like you to think about those promises, and of times when I failed to live up to them in your eyes.
For those times when I failed to keep my promises to you, I offer my apology and ask your forgiveness.
This minister then reviewed the promises the congregation made to her and said…
That’s a pretty good set of promises, and a pretty tall order. I wonder if we remembered then that you also are only human and would fail at times in keeping those promises? Well, a promise is still a good thing to make, even when we know we won’t keep it as faithfully as we might like.
Right now, I’d like you to think about those promises you made that day, and of times when you feel that you failed to live up to them.
For those times when you feel you have failed to keep your promises to me, I offer my understanding and forgiveness.
Having offered and received forgiveness for the ways we have failed to keep our covenant, I think it’s important to celebrate the many ways we have grown in keeping them. It’s important to celebrate the many times we kept them in good faith with one another.
So right now, I invite you to think about some times when you feel I lived up to those promises in a particularly good way.
For those times, I accept your gratitude and say “you’re welcome” and “it was my pleasure.”
Now please think about some times when you feel you lived up to your promises in especially good ways.
For those times, I am grateful and would like to say “thank you.”
Any successes we have had along the way we share, because they only happened when we were able to work together in good and faithful ways. Your willingness to work with me has done us both good, and we have both learned from our successes and our failures. So please stand and sing with me hymn #128, "For All That Is Our Life."
Hymn #128 For All That Is Our Life
Gifts for the Journey
It is now time for us formally to let go of one another. In our free churches, there is perhaps no bond more sacred than the bond between a minister and the congregation that has chosen him or her to serve them. This is because a minister’s power and authority come not from on high, but from the hearts and minds of those they serve. The installation service is a way of recognizing the beginning of that relationship, so it is only right and fitting that we have a ceremony to recognize its ending. Please stand and look at the insert in your order of service for the words for this ceremony.
Minister: You have offered me your free pulpit.
In gratitude for this gift I offer sage to symbolize the wisdom
That comes from creating meaningful worship together,
Rooted in a rich spiritual life.
I hereby return the ministry of worship to your able hands,
Use it to speak the truth in love to one another.
May this loving truth be a source of joy and gladness for you.
We thank you for your service in our pulpit,
We accept its power of freedom for ourselves
And release you from your service as worship leader.
Minister: You have welcomed me into the transitional moments of your lives,
Times of sorrow and of joy.
In gratitude for this gift you have given me, I offer the herb rosemary
For remembrance of comfort given and joys celebrated together.
I hereby return the ministry of pastoral care to your hands.
Use it to comfort and to celebrate the milestones of your lives
With compassion and care.
We thank you for the pastoral care you have offered us.
We accept its power of compassion for ourselves
And release you from your service as pastoral caregiver.
Minister: You have asked me to serve
As chief administrator of this congregation,
As a professional religious leader.
In gratitude for this gift you have given me,
I offer thyme as symbol
of our time together, and of experience.
I hereby return the admnistry of this congregation to you.
May you guide yourselves with courage and wisdom
Into a strong and sure future.
We thank you for your professional leadership.
We accept its power of vision and knowledge
And release you from your service as professional leader.
Minister: For the past few weeks we have lit this candle
With its twin spirals to symbolize our ministry together.
The candle has burned down, our time as run out.
To symbolize the fact
That our respective ministries will continue, separately,
The president and I will now light these two candles from it,
This one symbolizes your ministry.
This one symbolizes my ministry.
Our ministries will continue, separately.
Minister: I release your from our covenant with one another.
Go your way in peace, truth, and love.
We release you from our covenant with one another,
Go your way in peace, truth, and love.
Extinguish the chalice