The Passing Parson

A monthly blog by Rev. Dr George J. Koch, Holy Trinity’s Intentional Interim Pastor during our time of transition.  Pastor Koch will provide spiritual leadership for Holy Trinity until the new regularly called Pastor takes office.  In his weekly blog, Pastor Koch will discuss his thoughts on the Church Year and upcoming events at Holy Trinity.

Pastor George’s Farewell Article

Posted by Mark Donahue on Thursday, January 11, 2018 @ 2:16 PM

1         “Go, my children, with my blessing, never alone.

            Waking, sleeping, I am with you, you are my own.

            In my love’s baptismal river

            I have made you mine forever.

            Go, my children, with my blessing, you are my own.

Text: Jaroslav J. Vajda, 1919– 2008


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ;

Two Years, Two Months and Two Weeks – the length of our time together. It turns out that this is the longest interim I have served in the fourteen years I have been doing Intentional interim Ministry, but an interim ministry is not judged on longevity but by what we have accomplished together. Together we have: 1) said goodbye to Pastor Rhodes and examined how his ministry has shaped where we are today, 2) examined our total history to see how it impacts us, 3) look at leadership and volunteer changes in the interim period with an eye toward the future, 4) establish closer ties to our Synod (whose ties were close to begin with), and 5) to be prepared for the new pastor. 

All these things happened at the same time that my associate, Pastor Burson, and I continued to take care of the normal work of the church: leading worship and the sacraments of Baptism and Communion, pastoral care of the sick and dying, education of our children, youth and adults and commending our mission locally in the Portsmouth Area, nationally through the ELCA and with our international partners in Tanzania, Guatemala and the Holy Land.

We took a fearless inventory of ourselves via the CAT survey and the other self-administered surveys undertaken by the Transition Team. We discovered, not surprisingly, that we are a diverse congregation covering a 30 mile radius from the church (94 square miles).  Our diversity – of income, of education, of place of origin and even racial diversity (especially with a large Indonesian presence) makes us a unique congregation in New England and the second most diverse congregation I have served. I have argued that our diversity is a great gift, even though such a great gift comes with many challenges, none the least of which is to get to know each and every member and visitor well and to care about all who are part of the Body of Christ in this place, even as we continue to welcome and cherish the relations we have with friends we have made here over the years.

When Pastor Krick comes, he will find a congregation that is

  • Debt free, with an almost $300,000 surplus to manage and to use to enhance our mission.
  • A physical plant which is tended to by Dave Mercer and a dedicated cadre of Property workers (I would also like to thank Jim McKenna who uses his time, talent and connections to continuously maintain and upgrade our heating system).
  • A new parking lot – all paid for.
  • A new Sound System – all paid for.
  • A new Organ – all paid for.
  • A workable structure of Council, teams and taskforces
  • Innovative musicians
  • An excellent Office Manager.

While Holy Trinity still has much work to do (especially in the areas of education, outreach and creating lively and enriching worship), there is so much more for which to give thanks. As I keep telling anyone who will listen, there are many congregations who would kill to have the “problems” that Holy Trinity has, for our problems, though not insignificant, are not “life-threatening’. Continue to do the things well that you do well!

As the writer of the letter of Second Timothy says: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus…Proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.”

May God bless you on the next part of your journey!



PS – Regarding “Boundary Issues.” After Sunday I will no longer be your pastor. I will not come back to Holy Trinity unless specifically asked by Pastor Krick to do so, even after the “one year” rule.  This does not mean that we cannot communicate – it only means that we cannot communicate regarding issues at Holy Trinity.  If you wish to communicate with me you can either “friend” me on Facebook or email me at my personal email.  (Due to privacy issues, please email the church office if you would like Pastor George's Facebook username or personal email address)

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