Eleven years ago this month the Pastor Search Committee voted to recommend me to become the fifth pastor of River Road Church, Baptist. Sensing this to be the call of God for both of us I accepted their nomination and, subsequently, the supporting vote of the congregation. I began my work on September 1, 2004, and since then I have lived and worked under the lofty joys and weighty responsibilities that accompany the role of pastor of this wonderful church.
September 1, 2015 not only marks the eleventh anniversary of my service as pastor, it is also my 65th birthday. This is an appropriate occasion for reflection and self-assessment, a time of looking back with gratitude for all that has been and of looking forward with hope for what might be.
This also seems to me an appropriate time to announce my plan for retirement as pastor of River Road Church. I plan to conclude my service as your pastor no later than Sunday, November 22, 2015.
It is important for you to know what my decision to retire is not. I am not experiencing any pressure to leave from individuals or groups within the congregation. I am not angry or disappointed with the church. I do not lack confidence in our laity or staff. I am not troubled by our church’s health or future. I have not compromised my moral integrity. I have not received a distressing medical diagnosis. I am not in conversation with any other church or organization about future employment.
My decision to retire is the culmination of a lengthy process of personal reflection and spiritual discernment. In a simple sentence, while I am so blessed to be your pastor, with deep regret I am discovering that I do not have the energy to fulfill my duties as pastor at the level I have come to expect of myself, nor at the level River Road Church needs to fulfill its highest potential.
I have never wavered in my belief that River Road Church, Baptist has a vital role in the growth of God’s Kingdom. It is a great time to be a part of this vibrant congregation and to begin moving toward a new chapter of mission and ministry in Richmond and beyond. Vivian and I love being part of River Road Church, and we look forward to our participation in this community of faith in the years ahead.
Michael J. Clingenpeel