One of the events of this summer, the day I actually returned to duty after my sick leave in fact, was the celebration of the ministry of Reynoldsville’s newly designated PASTOR EMERITUS, The Rev. Leo C. Cramer. We celebrated the 50th Anniversary of his ordination as an elder in the Methodist tradition and we recognized him publicly for his ongoing invaluable ministry with , and among, and to, our congregation. We had wanted to get something into the conference newspaper, but they didn’t have room. These are the comments I started with as we moved into his installation as pastor emeritus.
I had friends who had entered ministry before I did who told of coming to this church building and learning the basics of being a pastor and a preacher from Leo as he taught the Local Pastor Licensing School.
I had a DS and Pastor Hughie who had told me of Leo helping to fill in the gaps when someone was away or sick…
I had you, my new church family, telling me of times when Leo had been there for a baptism, a funeral, a graduation, or just there as a listening ear in important life moments.
And I knew that we needed to continue to involve Leo. I needed his knowledge of names… He actually, from memory, can help me figure out who someone is by explaining where they sit on Sunday morning. (In fact, he’s offered to make me a seating chart cause he knows who goes where…)
I needed his understanding of who to talk to in order to get a job done. He knows who is talented with hammers and who is expert with calculators.
I needed his help in finding those people who might need a pastoral visit who wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable calling the new preacher and asking me to come.
And with some folks, with their well-hidden homes, I needed his help to even find them… and to figure out how to get home again.
I started asking people how can we help Leo to understand that we, both the congregation and this new pastor, need him as a part of our ministry team.
Being ‘methodical,’ all pastors are listed in the conference journal with their pastoral record… so I looked him up and realized, without straining too hard with the math, that it was 50 years ago this month that he had been ordained… and 60 years ago he had been licensed, ready to serve as a pastor whenever the bishop might need him.
But you know… just like the social page in the newspaper doesn’t feature just anyone who had a wedding 50 years ago, but only those who CONTINUE to be married after 50 years… so we also wanted to make a distinction here with Leo.
YES, we celebrate his ordination five decades ago… before I was even born… but that’s only a part of the picture… For we also celebrate that the ministry of Jesus Christ is advanced by the way Leo Cramer continues, even though he’s entitled to an easy retirement and has earned a rest, this man CONTINUES to minister…
And we as a church have recognized him as a pastor emeritus because we understand, and want the world around us to understand, that the ministry of First United Methodist Church, is stronger because Leo is part of our team.
When I first approached Leo about this, he laughed and said that ‘pastor emeritus’ was just a polite way of saying, “Thanks but goodbye!” sort of a “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?”
But Leo, we declare to you today, that this title is all about a recognition of your fruitful ministry of the past and our belief that, with you on our team, we will together have a continued fruitful ministry together in the future.
Leo, we thank you.
Leo, we honor you.
Leo, we love you.
Leo, we need you.