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  • Writer's pictureFr. Guillermo A. Arboleda

A Letter from the Rector


Tuesday after the Third Sunday of Lent

March 5, 2024

 

My Dear Siblings in Christ,

 

It is with a heavy yet grateful heart that I write to you today to announce my resignation as Rector of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, effective after Sunday, April 14, 2024. I have accepted a full-time, fully remote call to serve as Program Manager of New Starts for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in that denomination's central national office, based in Chicago.


My heart is heavy because, though I always knew this day would come, I hoped that it would be farther in the future. At the same time, my heart is grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to serve you, grateful for the love and respect we have built for one another over the years, and grateful for all that you have all taught me about how to be a priest. I will always cherish you and my time as your Priest-in-Charge and Rector.

 

The Diocese, the Wardens, and I have agreed on a timeline for my transition. I will stay at St. Matthew’s for the remainder of Lent, Holy Week, and through Easter Day (March 31). Rev. Kelly and I will take a previously-scheduled vacation from April 1-9, and then my final day at St. Matthew’s will be the Third Sunday of Easter, April 14, 2024. Afterward, my pastoral relationship with you will end, and, per Diocesan policy, I will not be available to officiate services or attend social events at St. Matthew’s Church until at least one year after a new Priest-in-Charge or Rector is installed.


As of April 15, Senior Warden Terry Newton, Junior Warden Rachael Blue-Jones, and the rest of the Vestry will lead the parish with the Diocese’s support and begin to search for an Interim Rector. Deacon Davis will continue to serve this parish—officiating at worship services, doing pastoral care, and more— until at least July 1, 2024, when her annual letter of agreement with the Bishop and Vestry may be renewed.


On Sunday, March 10, the Wardens and I will hold a special parish forum after worship to have a conversation about the transition. The Rev. Canon Loren Lasch, Canon to the Ordinary, will preside and preach at Holy Communion on Sunday, April 21, the first Sunday after my departure, and facilitate a meeting about next steps.


A bit about my new call: The ELCA and The Episcopal Church are full communion partners, so our clergy can serve one another rather seamlessly. Beginning on April 15, 2024, I will collaborate and consult with Lutheran bishops and their staffs as they plan and implement new church starts around the country, with special attention to ministries for Spanish-speakers, people of color, and other marginalized communities. I will continue to live in Savannah and remain an active clergy person in the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia for the foreseeable future, but I will be unable to continue to serve St. Matthew’s.


My hope and prayer is that, while we prepare for Easter, the next several weeks will be a time for warm and loving, if tearful goodbyes. If any of you want to speak to me individually or in small groups, I will make myself available to meet in person, by phone, and/or by video call. I will always hold you in my heart and in my prayers.

 

With love and gratitude,

The Rev. Guillermo A. Arboleda, 6th Rector of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church

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