February 10, 2017
Dear sisters and brothers of the Florida-Bahamas Synod,
The author of Ecclesiastes writes: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (3:1).
For the past three and a half years it has been my season to serve as bishop of the Florida-Bahamas Synod. While this was never an office I sought, it has been a remarkable honor and privilege to serve as this synod’s chief pastor. There have been many joys and privileges associated with serving as a bishop in this church. At the same time, I would be less than truthful if I didn’t confess that the rigors and responsibilities of this office, both on the territory of this synod and in the wider church, have taken a toll on me spiritually and personally, not to mention the toll it has taken on my family during my regular absences.
Following the Christmas holidays, I spent time with Pr. Jennifer and my children reflecting on the toll this office is taking on my spirit. I have spent time in prayer and shared my struggles in this call with our presiding bishop. I have come to the realization that this call is not suited to my spirit. This reflection has led me to the decision to resign as bishop of the Florida-Bahamas Synod as of March 5. I have not come to this decision lightly or easily, but the weight this office has put on my soul these last years has led me to be at peace with this decision.
It has been the greatest honor of my ministry to serve as your bishop, and there are many, many ways that I will miss it. I am not sure what the Lord of the Church has in store for me next, but I will take some time over the next several months to listen. Please pray for me as I will pray for you in the time ahead. In the midst of all the changes and challenges of life, we know that God’s love in Christ is the one anchor.
Life in the synod will go on as usual. Soon, an interim bishop will be appointed who will carry on and oversee the work of the Office of the Bishop until the next bishop is elected. The Synod Council is meeting this weekend and will communicate further details in the days ahead. (added 2/11: Read the synod council vice president’s notice to the synod here)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Thanks be to God!
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Robert G. Schaefer
Bishop of the Florida-Bahamas Synod