Rev. Elizabeth Gilbert's Response to Announcement at PUMC

Dear Friends -

If you were in worship this past Sunday at Plainfield UMC, you heard the news that Bishop Trimble has appointed me to serve as Senior Pastor at Union Chapel UMC, on the northeast side of Indianapolis, effective July 1. Mike and I have been honored to serve here at PUMC, and we are humbled to be appointed to lead at Union Chapel.

Mike and I have been sensing in recent months that God was calling us to the "next thing" in ministry, even without being sure what that next thing might be. When presented with the opportunity for the appointment to Union Chapel, Mike and I both felt confident that this was, in fact, the 'next thing' God had in mind for us. Mike and I have loved this ministry and the people of this congregation so deeply, and for so long. You are all more than congregants, more than friends. You are family, brothers and sisters in Christ, and we love you each and all. Even as our ministry location changes July 1, we will take you with us in our hearts, and you will continue to be in our prayers.

Please hear me when I say that Mike and I are not leaving this congregation as the result of any argument, conflict, or unhappiness. If you hear such rumors, please know that they are not true. PUMC is an amazing church. God is present here and working in and through this congregation to reach people for Christ. It has been a joy to serve here; to lead alongside all the gifted, godly pastors that have been here during my tenure; to be in ministry and mission with so many faithful people; and to see God at work among us. Thank you for the opportunity to learn, grow, lead and serve here at PUMC.

Simply put, Mike and I have been called by God to ministry in a new location, and we have answered that call with the scriptural words, "Here we are, God, send us." It is the way in the Methodist tradition that when a church needs a pastor, the best fit is sought and sent to serve there. Their current pastor is retiring and the Bishop thinks I can have a positive impact in the next years of this congregation’s life. My primary ministry responsibility here at PUMC, the NewDay Praise Ministry, is strong and thriving; it has excellent staff and lay leadership; it is in good hands. I have no doubt that ministry will continue to grow and impact this community in exciting ways, even and especially as Mike and I move on to answer God's call in another location.

And please be assured that commitment to contemporary worship at PUMC remains as strong as ever. Senior Pastor Charlie Wilfong has made his ongoing support and commitment well known. A pastor will be appointed to come on board to continue leading NewDay Praise Worship. I have no doubt that the good and generous God who has brought that ministry to this point, will continue to provide all that this congregation needs, and will continue to grow the ministry in effectiveness and reach.

Mike and I look forward to continuing with all you in ministry and mission right up to our departure at the end of June, doing everything in our power to leave this ministry and our responsibilities well prepared for whatever God has in mind for the future.
We will have plenty of time to talk and share in the coming weeks and months. We so appreciate your prayers for us, for PUMC, for Union Chapel, and for all involved and affected as we approach July.

When God calls us to something new, God seldom lays out all the details. God seldom gives guarantees or assurances of what is to come. What God invites us to do is to trust God in what God is doing. Mike and I have placed ourselves in God's care as we approach this new chapter of ministry, and we invite you to join us in trusting God with all that is to come. While we can't be sure what the future holds, we can be sure that God is in it, and that it will be better than anything we could ask for or imagine.

Thank you for being a part of this ministry. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for your faithful witness in the world. We are blessed, indeed.

And I especially want to thank Senior Pastor Charlie Wilfong and PUMC Staff Parish Relations Chair Tamara Miller. They have been generous, kind, loving, supportive, and encouraging as Mike and I have journeyed through this time of decision, as have the members of the Staff Parish Relations Committee. Thank you all for your ministry, service, and friendship.

And from Tamara Miller....
"PUMC will miss Elizabeth and we are grateful for her time with us and all she has accomplished. Her experience here has well prepared her to take a Senior Pastor position, and we are excited to support her in her new appointment and challenge. God has a plan for Elizabeth and for PUMC, and we will follow faithfully! We want to thank Elizabeth for all her wonderful work with PUMC and our community. Her successes are too many to name."

As a side note, please be assured that this change in pastoral appointment in no way changes Mike's and my travel plans for November when we will still be leading a group, many from PUMC, on the Footsteps of Paul Cruise. We are still leading this event and welcome inquiries and more travelers.

Mike and I have loved this congregation and all of you, and will continue in that love, even as we serve in a different location. You will all remain in our hearts and in our prayers. We look forward to continuing our friendships, just in a little different context.

Please be in touch. Contact Mike or I with questions. We look forward to these next months together, encouraging each other toward all that God has prepared for us.

Pastor Elizabeth Gilbert
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