A Fond Farewell from Neil McKown

While in my internships I was told that one of the most difficult ministry challenges of all is saying goodbye to a church family you have loved and been loved by. Words seem completely inadequate to express the feelings Erin and I have for all of you.

If I could write a letter just filled with the words “thank you” over and over, it seems that I would never be able to write enough of them to truly express how I feel about the time I spent here serving as your Director of Student Ministries.

To FPC Tyler Youth Parents—thank you for constantly supporting and encouraging your students to be involved in the life of this church. Thank you for understanding that you all are the primary spiritual providers for your students. I can’t express enough how grateful I am for that. Thank you for your never-ending patience with me as I learned and grew into this position.  

To FPC Tyler sponsors—thank you for walking alongside these students and their families with authenticity, consistency, and love. Thank you for attending camps, conferences, mission trips, lock-ins, and everything in between. You have created an environment for these students to flourish; a place that is safe to learn about God, grow in faith, and have fun building Christian community. Thank you for challenging me to always be learning, growing, and honing my skills. Without you there couldn’t be a youth ministry program.

To FPC Tyler—thank you for affirming my call into ministry. Thank you for taking a chance in 2009 on a 22-year old tuba player practically fresh out of college, who was considering ministry. Thank you for trusting me to work with your youth and young people. Thank you for all the love, forgiveness, patience, and support you have given me in these past 8 ½ years.    

To FPC Tyler Youth—(You’ll have to imagine me doing my best Boston accent, or it doesn’t work as well). You all are wicked awesome!!! In all seriousness…working with you has reaffirmed my call to ministry every single day I’ve been in Tyler. I look at you and I know that the church is in good hands. I see young women and men who love without ceasing and rejoice in serving; who sacrifice without thinking and support those who are falling. The church is in good hands. You are all confident, intelligent, jubilant, and artistic. Words can’t express how valuable this is. Keep sharing your gifts - it is vitally important. You’re the “now” of the church - keep going out, keep being it! This church is in good hands. 

(Okay, I’ll stop freestyling…). 

Thank you youth. Thank you for putting up with my goofiness. Thank you for your trust. Please know how much I love you all and will miss you. Family isn’t an important thing. It is everything, and you all are my family.

While I am confident in this new call, it doesn’t make this transition any easier. I know that God will call another youth director to Tyler who will carry on the student ministry programs of this church. They will be bringing new gifts, talents, and creativity to your programs. Erin and I are grateful to you all and will forever treasure our time here with you.

I don’t like saying “goodbye,” so I’ll say “See you soon!”

With all the love in world,
Neil McKown