Brothers and Sisters,
It is with very mixed emotions that I share with you the news that after two years of part-time ministry and 14 years of full-time ministry, I will be leaving the position of United Methodist Chaplain at AU at the end of May. Beginning June 1, 2016, I will be stepping into my new role as University Chaplain for American University.
I cannot even begin to express what these 16 years have meant to me—how meaningful and life-changing they have been. The ministry that we have been able to accomplish during those years—the creation of ministries of worship, social justice, hospitality, service, discipleship, men’s and women’s groups, and open and affirming community welcoming of all people—has been extraordinary to witness and to be a part of. There is no greater congregation in United Methodism than the United Methodist-Protestant Community at American University and it has been a great privilege to have been a part of it. You all have made it an experience that changed my life.
I regret that, due to the confidentialities of the process and need for appropriate discretion, I was unable to share this news with you earlier. Knowing that any given event—a healing service, our cookout, a movie night—might be my last with you was emotional enough; my inability to be able to share that fact all the more difficult.
But the work of the United Methodist campus ministry at AU and the health of the community is exceptionally important to me. So, I want to give you all some assurances going forward:
My campus ministry board and Bishop Matthews will ensure that this community receives the best campus minister available.
I will literally only be 10 feet away and can provide whatever continued support and guidance I can, both to the new campus minister and to the community as a whole, as is appropriate
If there is a lag in the appointment, I commit to cover Sunday worship services and ensure that this vital centerpiece of our community continues uninterrupted. This also goes for the summer tabling and Bible study.
You have very strong student leadership and the essential nature of the community will remain unchanged.
As University Chaplain, I will be committed to ensuring the health and effectiveness of all the communities at Kay, which means that the United Methodist-Protestant Community will always be something I will do everything I can to help, support, and nurture.
And as University Chaplain, I will be the pastor to the entire AU community, which includes you. With appropriate respect for pastoral boundaries with your new campus minister, I will still be available to talk whether about things serious, or just about fonts and Star Trek, as always.
You all are the most extraordinary community any pastor could ever have asked for. It has been my great honor and undeserved privilege to have been your campus minister for these 16 years.
With profound affection for all that you have been and done, and all that you will continue to be and do, I remain
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Mark A. Schaefer
United Methodist Chaplain | Adjunct Lecturer in Religion
(202) 885-3304 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.aumethodists.org