A letter from Peter

September 17, 2018

Dear Friends,

Five years ago, I stepped off the wharf onto a sailboat and I learned how to sail. On that adventure I discovered a practice that helped me let go of the life I had, and discover a new life I’d never imagined.

Today, I write that I have been called to step away from University Church into a new adventure.

I write with tears of gratitude for the privilege of serving as one of your pastors for the past 25 years. We will mark my last Sunday on December 30.

This is a decision I have come to after much thought and prayer over these past months. I have loved being your pastor for 25 years – almost half of my life! The hugs, the tears, the adventures, the people I have met, the staff with whom I’ve worked, the places I have gone, the impact we have had on untold individual lives and families, not to mention the Seattle community and beyond, can scarcely be grasped.

At my 20th anniversary, I shared that I have been blessed by your high expectations and deep love. You have witnessed my successes and shortcomings; my resistance to change and my stumbling vulnerability; my perfectionism and my imperfections. This challenging ministry, and our honest conversations, have enabled me to become the man I am today.

As with learning how to sail, I feel called to step out into unknowing – a season of learning and discovery, reflection and writing – an intentional Sabbath as I listen for God’s call. I know I am being called out to some new way to be, some new way to serve that I trust will be revealed.

It’s important for you to know that University Church is as strong as it has ever been, strong in identity, and most of all, strong in its people and leadership. And I will do all I can to give our ministry my full energy and best talents for a smooth transition. In October and November I have cleared my calendar on Thursdays and Fridays for those of you who would like a time for conversation.

We have been blessed these past years by William Sloane Coffin, Jr.’s benediction. I offer it again in deep gratitude for this community of faith, and each of you.

May God grant you the grace never to sell yourself short.

Grace to risk something big for the sake of something good.

Grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth

And too small for anything but love.

In faith, hope, and love,

Peter Ilgenfritz

Editor’s Note: find out about our next steps for our church >> here

Our Migration Stories

I have walked through many lives,

some of them my own,

and I am not who I was,

though some principle of being

abides, from which I struggle

not to stray.

Stanely Kunitz, from his poem, “The Layers”

This Fall, we begin a year-long worship series on migration. We begin with exploring all it takes to even contemplate leaving home, and the choices we need to make, not so much about what to take – but what we need to leave behind. Sometimes our moves from home are by choice – a new job, new school, new relationship, a desire for a change – but for many people in the world the exit from home is forced upon them by others through enslavement, war and violence at home, flooding and other natural or man-made disasters, or the need to find food.

The exodus story, of the migration of the people of Israel from Egypt, is a story of such a forced migration – a people needing to leave enslavement in the hope of finding a place of safety to call home. We’ll be following their journey through the desert each Sunday this Fall, and each Sunday asking the same question – what are we called to leave behind?

We are delighted that Debra Jarvis, one of our covenant partners, and writer-in-residence, will be helping us on this journey through preaching and Sunday morning worship leadership.

Thank you, once again, to Kris Garratt for her extraordinary gifts in liturgical art that carry us through this Fall and coming seasons. You can help support our Arts Ministry through the Worship and Music Liturgical Arts Fund. Consider sending in a gift to show your support!

During the rest of the year, our journey of migration continues. Through Advent and Epiphany, we will be exploring Leaving Home; in Lent, the experience of Wilderness once we have left home, and concluding in Eastertide with Journeys Ending.

Today, the reality of forced migration is so present throughout our world. This is a time when many feel a dis-location and not-at-home-ness in a variety of ways. This is a time when it is imperative, as church, to explore all that migration can mean physically, emotionally, and spiritually, so that we can be companions of hope, compassion and justice along the way.

  • Where would you like to be headed during this coming season?
  • How would you hope to be, during this time, as you walk through your own season of migration.

We have envelopes and note cards in the church office, and we invite you to write a note to yourself about these two questions. We’ll mail your reminder to you next May as we conclude our series.

In all the journeys we will travel as people, church, nation, and world during the coming year, may we remember God’s promise of being present with us always. May you know such hope, encouragement, strength and love with you today.

Leave of Absence Announcement

~ Peter Ilgenfritz
The Personnel Board has granted me a one-month leave of absence, November 6 – December 6, so I can complete a writing project. I have been working on a book on learning how to sail, and my journey through fear into the unknown. I am so grateful for this focused time that will enable me to immerse myself in this project, and have my next draft done on the other side!

I am grateful that Debra Jarvis will continue be help carry some worship leadership responsibilities during this time.