July 15, 2019
To the People of The Episcopal Church in Vermont:
The month of June this year was an emotionally charged time for us, a month that we will not soon forget, nor would we want to. It began and ended with two diocesan-wide celebrations, honoring us and our ministries with words of affection and gratitude that still ring in our hearts as we think back on them. Each celebration began with worship, as we had requested. The beautiful service of Evensong at the Cathedral on June 2 was one of those wonderful transcendent times of liturgical mystery and majesty. The equally moving evening worship at Saint Michael’s, Brattleboro on June 29 featured Taizé music, offered in the quiet reflective manner that can lead one deep into a place of awe and wonder. Having worshipped together in each place, the delicious receptions that followed provided time for greeting and socializing during which we were warmly greeted by those of you who could be present, all the while feeling the love of others whose presence we missed.
And then there are all the gifts that were presented to us on those two occasions! Gifts of travel, recreation (golf and reading), artwork, proclamations, scholarship funds, gorgeous pictures albums, a mystery play, and more. We are profoundly aware that so many from across The Episcopal Church in Vermont, and beyond, contributed in order to make these memorable gifts possible. Each gift carried with it a special meaning for us, conveyed in the words offered by each who made a presentation. We are humbled by that expression of your love for us and grateful for your generosity. For all who helped plan and carry out these celebrations, and for those who were able to be present at one, or both, please know how grateful we are for these offerings of time to gather, pray, eat and enjoy the company of one another.
June was also an emotional time for us in a less celebratory way. The death of Tom’s younger brother from cancer came unexpectedly sooner that any of us imagined. Two trips to Maryland, one to be with him and our family as he died and the other to give thanks to God for his life, came in mid-June, sandwiched between the two diocesan-wide celebrations, and during our move from Burlington to Newfane. We are grateful for the many expressions of love and support we received during this time of grief and sorrow. It is yet one more reason why we give thanks for the years of ministry we have spent among the people of The Episcopal Church in Vermont.
The month of June with its celebrations (and sorrows) mark the completion of the final year of Tom’s visitations with congregations, what some like to call “the sheet cake tour!” During this time, there have been many local celebrations and expressions of gratitude that have come our way. We will treasure each as a sign of the relationships we have established with you during these past 18 years and remain ever grateful for each one. For Tom, the privilege of serving as your bishop has been a great honor and joy. To be prayed for by name each Sunday in so many faith communities, by so many people, is as profound and humbling an experience as anyone can imagine. For Ann, the grace with which you welcomed her into your midst and the understanding you showed as she pursued her own various ministries, were indeed great gifts.
The people of The Episcopal Church in Vermont have demonstrated time and again your generous hearts and spirits. For us, the month of June 2019 will remain an icon of that amazing capacity. May you never grow tired of living that foundation of your faith every day as you Walk the Way of Love with one another and your new Bishop-elect, Shannon.
With gratitude and love,
Tom and Ann Ely