I announced my retirement effective March 1, 2017, having served Saint Andrew’s congregation for twenty-five years and seven months. Our four children (Mark, Brad, Krista, Jeremy) grew up within the congregation. They were involved with youth events as well as regular attendance at worship. They have fond memories of life in Fredericton and within Saint Andrew’s church. At one time Holly and I rented a 14 passenger and drove some of our youth to Toronto for a conference. Outings to Mount Carleton, Fundy National Park, baseball games, and other activities will be a a part of our memory for years to come. Our children are now living away. Mark is in Ontario, Bradford in PEI. Krista is in the Yukon and Jeremy lives in NS. We have nine grandchildren we do not see often enough.
We have accomplished much together. Many study groups have met throughout the years. Hundreds of Baptisms, weddings, and funerals have taken place. Times of celebration have been held. Suppers, pot luck luncheons. So many concerts and special services within the greater Fredericton community have been meaningful and important.
To make this decision has been difficult because I have loved being part of such a caring community. During the past twenty five years we have been able to meet our commitments to Presbyterians Sharing, and support the relief work of Presbyterian World Service and Development. We sent a nine person team to the Cameroon and helped with the building of a new church. Campaigns such as Live the Vision provided financial assistance for the national church’s ministry. This past year we supported a refugee family from Syria. We have been blessed by this ministry and their presence in the community. Other projects such as the refurbishment of the organ, the updating of the kitchen, shingling the roof are an indication of good stewardship. The property is in good repair thanks to the diligent oversight of the Board of Managers.
We have discussed issues concerning refugees, as well as the LGBTQ community. We try to be a welcoming and inclusive congregation. We have acknowledged the need to work closely with others in our community. We have become, even recently, much more aware of the need to work with First Nations communities and respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. We have engaged youth and young families through the hiring of youth leaders. We see ministry to youth as a vital part of the life and work of the congregation. We are thankful for the music ministry carried on throughout the years. There are those who lead our Summer Bible School program, and those who volunteer in so many different ways. We are grateful for the many volunteers who give of their time and talent. Teachers in our church school lay the foundation for learning. Holly has enjoyed being a part of the Church School program and helped in establishing and implementing new curriculum.
The Session will work with our Presbytery in selecting an interim moderator to oversee the work of the congregation. A search committee selected by Session will be formed. The search committee will eventually recommend a candidate to preach for a call to Saint Andrew’s and serve as your minister. You will have an opportunity to meet the person both informally and at a worship service. The congregation will make the final decision.
On a personal note, I would like to thank you for your support and co-operation. Holly and I will continue living in New Maryland.
It has been a joy to serve as your minister.
The Reverend Douglas E. Blaikie
1 John 4: 7-10