Day 29 – Godspeed Darrel

There are few times in our lives when we realize it’s the last. Mostly, the last slips by without us noticing or realizing in time.

The last lesson
The last shared meal
The last staff retreat
The last planning meeting

But today, we were lucky because we knew it was to be the last…Darrel’s last Sunday.

His last procession
His last message
His last communion
His last goodbye

And since he left us and not the other way around, we are here with a Dear Darrel instead of Dear John letter.

Dear Darrel,
Like most of the people at COTHA, my feelings are all over the place this afternoon. I absolutely adore the idea of you in Kansas surrounded by your loved ones…but I dread tomorrow morning knowing you are gone. Not vacation gone. Not death gone. Just not here at COTHA any longer gone.

You and I have shared a whole EPOCH of time together. A decade. Ten Years. 520 Sundays.

Under our first pastor I learned what Christianity was about – in fact, COTHA is where I became a Christian. But under your ministry, I learned what it was to live like a Christian. I learned about loving others – even those I didn’t like. I learned that godly leadership mattered. I learned I didn’t have to fix anything or be self-sufficient – I just had to be there with people; relying on God. I learned that God was good all the time – even when life was going to hell in a handbasket. I learned that God cared more about my character than my comfort. But most of all, I learned it was ALL ABOUT GOD…and not so much about me. Okay, not at all about me.

You showed me personally a grace that I wasn’t sure the church was capable of showing. You gave me a vision of what the church needed to be in this broken world – one open to all and desperate to extend grace and love.

I will miss you. I will miss your guidance on this new COTHA phase.  I will miss your laugh and your irreverence on most worldly things. I’ll miss seeing your red truck in the parking lot and your yellow dog in the office. I’ll miss your steadfastness.  I will miss you.

Love you and godspeed Darrel,

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Donna Matthews is a blog writer at the DJRanch where she strives to remain authentic while not taking herself too seriously. She is also the creator of Slay The Chaos (, where she writes about productivity and organization. She is a member of The Writers Guild and Write Space in Houston and is currently writing her first book.