You have all received Charles Gaby’s letter announcing that he will leave the staff of our church at the end of April. Charles expressed his love for this church and for the communities within our church that he has shepherded and of which he has been a part during the past twelve years.There is no question that the feeling is mutual! This goes not only for the 11:11 community, the Roots of Change groups, and those involved in the work of Affect Script Psychology and Restorative Practices, but also our church staff. The love flows both ways.
Speaking personally, I have been, am and will always be deeply grateful for my friend and colleague, Charles. We were fellow students and friends at Centenary College and part of several communities there: the Centenary School of Church Careers, the Centenary Choir, and a group of students who were intentional in community and support of one another (as well as some fun!) that Charles founded. From the first time I heard Charles sing songs he had written and share the poetry of James Cavanaugh, I was impressed with his talent and creativity. And it was obvious that Charles would always be engaged in the work of bringing people together in community and bringing out the creativity in others. Charles sang at our wedding (and never even flinched when one of his guitar strings broke—a real professional!) I came to the church a year after Charles did. In my nearly eleven years here at FUMC Charles has been a resource for me at important points—as a sounding board, a confidant, and an advisor. I’m grateful for that, too.
As we look toward the future, Charles will continue to be a resource for our church and community. He will continue his work with Restorative Communities and we will be able to contract with Charles, as his time allows, to conduct retreats, engaged couples weekends, etc. The eleven:eleven community will continue to thrive with the leadership of Rev. Tom McDermott, who has also been a part of the dreaming and planning and preaching in that worship experience since the beginning. Tom will take over responsibility for this service, and the band and music will continue with Brad Thompson taking over music leadership. Rev Linda McDermott, as well as others familiar to 11:11, will also preach from time to time.
We will have opportunities to express our gratitude to Charles over the next few weeks, with the last Sunday in April being “Charles Gaby Sunday” at FUMC.
Grace and Peace,