Giving Thanks & Saying Goodbye
Dear Parish family and friends,
When I accepted the call to Good Shepherd in 2009, I covenanted to model a healthy leadership transition – that, one day, our season together would complete while ministry is vibrant and with the parish in better condition than when I arrived. With intentions to keep that promise, I write to share that last Thursday I accepted the call to serve as rector of Trinity Church in Boston. As bittersweet as all of us Allens find the prospect of leaving you, we also believe that God has never called us to what is comfortable, safe, or easy, and we believe God now calls us into the blessings and challenges of this new opportunity. We sense in Trinity the same spark that drew us to Austin, and we look forward to sharing with them all that we have learned from you.
Our time at Good Shepherd at once seems to have started only the day-before-yesterday, and, yet, teems with enough love and ministry to fill more than one lifetime. Believe it or not, we have been here almost 10 years! When Missy and I need perspective on the length of our tenure, we remember that we arrived with a toddler daughter and a son readying for Kindergarten. In the years since, you raised our children with us, loving them into the remarkable young adults they have become, and, with at least equal grace, you raised me.
I committed to Good Shepherd when I was 33. The Search Committee and Vestry took a leap of faith with me that was not without risk. Learning from you every step of the way, you grew me into a leader, and, together, we grew this Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd – Good Shepherd-Windsor and The Hill, Good Shepherd Episcopal School and Hillside Early Childhood Center – into as vital, faithful, and generous a community as there is in The Episcopal Church. Thank you, thank you for your wisdom, patience, and grace. I am so grateful for the privilege of having shared this abundant time with you.
Though the buildings and the second campus will remain visible symbols of our time together, they will not be what I remember first. I will first remember you: your commitment, your faith, and – above all – your love. During our season, we have baptized more than 550, married 135, and buried almost 250, and – Lord, have mercy – I have loved loving you in every single one. Indeed, coming to know you and your stories, and sharing with you in the joyful labor of “being Church,” has been one of the great honors of my life and will always be. I give thanks to God for the outstanding parishioners, Vestry, Wardens, and staff with whom I have served.
My last Sunday at Good Shepherd will be February 10, and, as I ready for the next month, I take heart in that most familiar poetry of the apostle Paul:
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or
arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable
or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the
truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,
endures all things. Love never ends.
With all our hearts,
Morgan, Missy, Michael, and Ginna Allen
Dear Parish family and friends,
As we receive the news of Morgan’s departure, we reflect on the blessings of his time at Good Shepherd.
From the beloved community on the corner of Windsor and Exposition to God’s presence at The Hill on Woodland Avenue, the fruits of his love and labor are both tangible and extraordinary. Memories of his spiritual guidance at times of both joy and anguish will remain with us always. We will remember the lessons of Springsteen songs and LSU fandom; the lore of a northeastern Louisiana childhood; the blessings of working on an old car. Most importantly, we will remember to see ourselves as the true body of Christ, as Morgan sees us. We feel blessed to have worked, prayed, and loved one another alongside Morgan for a decade.
Though he may be hesitant to identify it as such, his call to Trinity Church Boston is indeed an honor. Like Good Shepherd today, Trinity is one of the largest Episcopal congregations in the country. With a history dating from the 1700s and a building recognized by AIA as both a National Historic Landmark and one of the country’s top 10 buildings, the church is steeped in Episcopal history. And like Good Shepherd in 2008, Trinity Church finds itself in need of leadership. What we so value in our beloved Rector has not gone unnoticed – and with a spirit of love and a commitment to serve God’s people, Morgan has answered the call.
Our parish is in an incredibly healthy position to navigate this transition. Our community is diverse and growing; our finances are robust; our spirit of community, service and love is strong. Our shared call to ministry has made this health possible. The work of the Strategic Planning effort this fall has identified what Good Shepherd values, and operationalizing the plan will provide Good Shepherd with energy and direction during this time.
Our call to minister in Christ’s name will continue after Morgan’s departure, and with your help we expect that our ministries will continue to thrive and that our parish will continue to grow. We are lucky to have a strong roster of clergy, staff, and lay leaders to sustain our worship and programmatic ministries in the months to come.
In the next few months and with the support of the Diocese of Texas, Good Shepherd will identify and call an Interim Rector. Simultaneously, the search will begin for a permanent Rector. By leaving when our parish is healthy and growing, Morgan has helped position us to conduct our search from a place of strength. As one of the fastest growing parishes in the country, and located in our beautiful Austin, we expect to attract the best and brightest. With your continued commitment, we believe that our search will prove as successful as it did in 2008.
Finally, as we prepare to bid farewell to the Allens on February 10, we invite you to join us in celebrating their tenure at Good Shepherd in both worship and fellowship in the weeks to come.
God’s love and peace,
Anne Jarvis, Senior Warden
Taylor Bowles, Junior Warden/Incoming Senior Warden
Boots Willeford, Incoming Junior Warden
Milo Burdette, Treasurer