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A letter from Coordinating Presbyter Rev. Dr. Ted Land

To The Presbytery of Florida, Greetings in Christ Jesus!

On Saturday, April 25, the Presbytery of Sierra Blanca of the Synod of the Southwest, which comprises the southern half of the state of New Mexico, voted to extend a call to me to become their Transitional
Shepherd for a two-year-term beginning July 15, 2015.

I therefore request that the Presbytery of Florida dissolve our contract, effective June 30, 2015, so that I may answer that call, and that I be dismissed, as of that date, to the Presbytery of Sierra Blanca.

I have come to love Northwest Florida, and Marianna and the First Presbyterian Church of Marianna in particular. Yet my time in Marianna must come to an end, and two-and-a-half years as an interim pastor is too long. One of the ruling elders of the Marianna church and the liaison with the Ministry Team and the church have spoken the same words: that I am no longer “interim”, but have become the pastor.

The Marianna Pulpit Nominating Committee appears very close to presenting a name to the congregation as their next pastor. It behooves me to get out of the way of this future pastor. So many of the leaders of Presbytery teams are also leaders of the Marianna church that I would find myself regularly in situations of possible conflict of interest.

It has also become obvious to me that the Presbytery of Florida could not pick up the financial and housing considerations that the Marianna church provides. There simply isn’t the money to afford a full-time Presbyter. Nor is there other part-time ministry that I might move into in order to continue as Coordinating Presbyter part-time.

Therefore, feeling that it is in the best interests of First Presbyterian Church of Marianna, the Presbytery of Florida, my family, and myself, I have accepted the call of the Presbytery of Sierra Blanca, pending the dissolution of my contracts with the Marianna church and the Presbytery of Florida.

I have loved what you have allowed me to be and do here, and you have prepared me to go to New Mexico and do there what I have loved here. Polly and I have always wanted to live in the Southwest, and this allows us to live that dream.

There are friendships here that will last forever. There are lessons learned here that will endure. My prayers will remain with each of you and with the church and the Presbytery in the time of transition yet to come.

If I am leaving the Presbytery too soon, it may be because I stayed too long as interim pastor.

But two lessons I have learned: one from my father: Always leave a place better than you found it.

And the other from the late Kayo Welles: Always leave the dance floor while the band is still playing.

Yours in the Name of the One Who is Lord of the Dance,

Ted Land