In a couple of weeks I will be unemployed.

When I was nine years old my cousin made me a shoe shine box and I began working on the streets of Mobile, Alabama. Since that time sixty years ago I have been engaged in some kind of work that generated income. That will end on June 30th when I begin a new phase of life called retirement.

In 1972 at the age of 28, Lena and I arrived in Georgia with our eight-month old son to begin our first appointment as the student pastor of two Carroll County churches in west Georgia. The folks at the Roopville and Lowell United Methodist churches were wonderful. They launched my pastoral ministry and nurtured us through the three years of living in their parsonage and serving their communities.

After seminary we moved to the Comer Circuit just east of Athens which included the Comer church in Madison County and Glade in Oglethorpe County. I learned so much during those four years and developed a work routine and sermon style that would be a foundation for the future.

The next twelve years were spent serving Bright Star UMC in the growing suburban community of Douglasville west of Atlanta. Those were great times and we were stretched to remain relevant as the church and area population grew. Our children attended six different schools and we were able to become a part of the community life in a way that was very meaningful.

The next and last local church that we served was Aldersgate UMC a couple of miles from the Augusta National, home of the Masters Golf Tournament. After four years I was appointed to be the Atlanta-Marietta District Superintendent. Then four years later the bishop appointed me to the conference staff where I have served in three different roles over the past 14 years.

When the 147th Session of the North Georgia Annual Conference adjourns one week from today, it will be the first time in 41 years that I have not been under episcopal appointment. Now that we are on the brink of that reality I am regularly asked, “What are you going to do now?”

I have answered repeatedly, “I don’t know but I intend to take some time off and try to take it easy. After a while we will see what God has for us.”

Although writing is not my passion or one of my natural gifts, it is a wonderful discipline for me. Therefore, I plan to continue this weekly blog and may consider other writing opportunities.

I was called to preach fifty years ago and that calling has not been retracted. During the months of August and September I have commitments to preach four Sundays in three churches, a six-day campmeeting, and six days of homecomings and revivals. I hope I will continue to have opportunities to preach. Have Bible. Will travel.

Speaking of traveling, Lena and I plan to do some traveling this summer at our own leisurely pace. After that we plan to celebrate my birthday and our daughter’s birthday with her and our son-in-law in California in September and meet our son and his family in Southeast Asia sometime around Christmas. Hopefully we will have more chances to visit all of them more in the future.

Over the years we have had the privilege of leading groups on more than two dozen Holy Land pilgrimages (Israel, Jordan, Egypt). We have also led groups on several Wesley Heritage programs in Great Britain and numerous travel experiences to other places in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa. We have been with mission groups to several countries in Central and South America. These journeys have been very meaningful for us and for others as well.

Lena and I will continue to facilitate some group travel experiences in the future. In 2014 we will lead a group to the Holy Land in February, a Tulip Time River Cruise to Holland and Belgium in March, an Alaska cruise and land tour in the summer, and a Mediterranean cruise in October. If you want more information on any of these, contact me.

I do not want or intend to “disappear.” I will continue to follow my call and practice ministry in whatever manner God provides. It is just time to make a change.

I have always functioned with the understanding that if I am doing what I ought to do today, I will be where I need to be for whatever God has for tomorrow. This is just another stage of that ongoing journey- and I am ready for it.

Jamie Jenkins