Posted by Sheila Thomasson

Dear St. John’s family,
Sunday, August 28th, was a wonderful celebration and remembrance of our ministry together for these almost 20 years.  Everything about the day created new memories that I will carry with me and cherish for the rest of my life.  From the beginning of worship, with its wonderful music and the anthem written by Brink Norton, until we locked up the parish hall doors after the luncheon, I was moved and touched beyond measure by your gracious spirit and generosity. As I shared throughout the day, I was at a loss for words. Now, several days later, I want to again say, “Thank You” as I lift up my gratitude for our ministry together.  As Paul wrote in Philippians, chapter 1, verse 3, “I thank my God every time I remember you;” so I shall thank my God every time I think of you and St. John’s.
Thank you for bestowing upon me the title of “Pastor Emeritus.” That is such an honor and one that offers me a loving connection with St. John’s and the congregation for the rest of my life.
Thank you for the watercolor of our steeple reaching towards the heavens and called “David’s Vision.” It is a beautiful piece of artwork, and one that Judy and I will display prominently in our new home.  This view of St. John’s steeple, nestled against the skyline but rising into the sky represents so well our place in the community proclaiming the God who loves us and sent his son Jesus Christ into the world.  There is a photograph of “David’s Vision” in this newsletter, and a second piece had been commissioned that will be displayed in the parish building.
Thank you for the gift certificate to Don Cesar’s in St. Petersburg, where Judy and I may enjoy a retirement vacation together as we continue to access what my retirement means and how we shall enjoy it as we continue to answer God’s call to make Christ known.
Thank you for the sterling silver belt buckle, engraved with the dates of my service to St. John’s, and for the lizard belt that accompanies it. This is something I have wanted for years.  It is something of a standard in the Charleston area, and now I have another reminder of my ministry here.  And the bracelet presented to Judy is beautiful and will remind her of you and the love she has for this church family.
Thank you to Lynn Bean, Bishop Aebischer, Frickie Martschink, Henry Siegling, Christi Kunkle, Steve Trayte, Elizabeth and Marc Marchant, and Chris Tant for taking the microphone and sharing both serious and humorous comments about our time together.  What wonderful memories we have of that day.  Special thanks to Martha Harken, Jan Kyle, Chris Tant, Norma Luden, David Sines Thomasson and so many others who worked tirelessly to pull this celebration off.  And of course, our fantastic Vestry for their work in designing a day that we shall all remember.
But especially, and most importantly, THANK YOU, the members and family that is our St. John’s congregation for these 20 years of ministry, friendships, and time together. It has truly been a call from God to serve as your Pastor, and “I thank my God every time I remember you.” You have been a blessing to our family and we shall remember you and include you in our prayers forever.
As of September 12, our new address will be: 6211 Mulligan Run, The Villages, Florida 32163. As we are able, let’s stay in touch. I pray that God will bless us, keep us, and watch over us as He continues to call you, Judy, and me to be faithful disciples in this world proclaiming the Son of God as Lord.
With love, prayers, remembrances, I am yours in Christ.
Reverend David J. Butler, + Pastor Emeritus
St. John’s Lutheran Church