On behalf of Lutheran Services New York Alliance, particularly the Clinical Pastoral Education Advisory Committee, I want to express our gratitude for all you have done to advance the social ministry effort of the church through your work with Lutheran Social Services of New York, and the support you have given to pastoral/spiritual care education. As you move now to serve in our nation’s capital, know of our gratitude, esteem and earnest prayers.
To be sure, your commitment to the work of the church in the public sector is an inspiration. With a full portfolio, you helped this newcomer organize a retirement celebration for our CPE director. I remember how you managed the details of helping plan that event, even to the point of buying and lugging wine from the State of Delaware because it was a good “deal” and getting a deal on beer in Brooklyn. Across my mind came the thought that, somehow, you would have made a bundle of money in the days of Prohibition, getting the best deal in town and, when there was no best deal, making one. Chris, you make things happen.
Clearly, this was the case in your service as Chair of the CPE Advisory Committee, since its inception in 2004. Supportive along the way, your leadership was critical during two intensive accreditation processes even as your work was a key in developing placements of CPE interns and residents in LSSNY programs. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, you led the way for the preparation and submission of a grant to place CPE residents, whose efforts brought spiritual/pastoral care to people at a most vulnerable time in their lives. Chris, while you know how to make things happen for the good, you also know how to identify with those whose lives have known the vulnerabilities of our shared humanity. This combination makes you a star in our way of thinking. We can only wonder, were it not for your efforts, how much of this would have been accomplished.
At the same time, I cannot help but think of Jesus’ admonition that his followers be savvy in the work of a ministry. It was Jesus’ way to keep his followers’ eyes on the goal and to keep advancing in the face of all the opposing forces. This is just what your ministry has been among us. You have kept your eye on the goal and worked tirelessly to advance service in the mission. Your compelling leadership has inspired us in the face of the challenges at hand. You have been a vehicle of the Spirit’s passion to do the work of the Word with dirty hands, tired feet and all.
While we are very happy about the new opportunity into which you are now being drawn, we are sad about losing you here in New York. What matters, though, is that you are still a co-worker in the faith and, to that end, we will pray for you, support you in any way we can. As we gather today, we celebrate with you this wonderful gift of life from our God and the gift of faith that opens us to new horizons and visions. Such a compelling force of faith refuses to stop envisioning a better place in life for people, whose lives are lived on the edge and often in the deepest of need, a place known by all, yet in differing circumstances not readily acknowledged.
So, dear lady and leader, as we bid our “adieu” to you, we share with you our respect and gratitude, deeply rooted in Godspeed. May these prayers and hopes earnestly support you and your family that your new work flourish in the exciting months and years to come, as it has flourished among us. With abiding affection,
John W. Havrilla,
Executive Director, Lutheran Services New York Alliance.