Movin' Right Along

October 1, 2022 - Pastor Cathy Stengel

In 1979 I graduated from college. That same year a song came out called Movin’ Right Along. It was sung by Fozzy and Kermit in a Muppet movie. I saw it in Eugene, Oregon, while traveling around the country with a friend. We played that cassette tape (homemade) over and over again. Ultimately the tape was stolen in a car robbery in San Francisco. We bought another one, haha. And we sang it - my traveling companion was way more musical than I am. Here are some of the lyrics... do you remember it?

Movin’ right along in search of good times and good news
With good friends you can’t lose
This could become a habit!
Opportunity knocks once let’s reach out and grab it (yeah!)
Together we’ll nab it
We’ll hitchhike, bus, or yellow cab it!
(Cab it?)

I heard God call me into ordained ministry on that trip - it led to a defining kind of movin’ right along, seminary, ordination, etc. Whenever each of us is given the opportunity or takes the opportunity to reflect and look back, it’s often at a turning point for us or our loved ones. This past February, I did some traveling and followed some spiritual practices as I looked to God for some answers. I knew that I would be retiring either at the end of December 2022 or at the end of June 2023.

You may have heard that I am retiring at the end of December 2022. Pastor Scott Johnson will become the full-time Lead Pastor and Pastor Jennifer Stamm will continue to be half-time as an associate pastor.

I want to offer some words of reflection - what I was asked to come here to do and where we are. You heard some of it, a lot more of it in the video I published back in January.

Hear this, my friends –

  1. Change is hard and there’s been a lot of it. The plan in my coming was not to see a changeover of almost all the staff… that was just an evolving life reality. It was supposed to happen with me, though, 1-3 years… then retirement.
  2. The question was asked when I first met with the SPRC - how do we do this, clearly some of us are going to get close to you, how do we jump in and then jump out? My honest response was that I’m an all-in kind of person - whether it’s been making VBS videos around my yard at the parsonage or finding some of you to bring communion to your porch, your garage, your living room or sitting with a dying member at Mercy South Buffalo when the world was locked out. I don’t know any other way - and so we’ve gotten attached - developed relationships, gone through stuff together. I won’t be moving right along to be away from you - I will be moving on to be with my family and fulfill some long-time hopes.
  3. This congregation is filled with gifted servants of God - staff and volunteer, pastor and lay, young and older. You are in good hands, and I believe we can all turn towards the future - not dependent on one person but hopeful about a team of persons called to lead in all ways.

One more thing - staying connected makes all the difference in how we move through the shifts in seasons and spaces. Come for yourself, come for one another - come because you believe that God is already up to something good, something praiseworthy. We can’t always see it - but oh goodness, let’s believe… together.

Lots of love,
Pastor Cathy