It is with a mixture of sadness and loss, plus a dash of excitement for the future, that we publish Fr. Joel Hafer's announcement that he will be retiring in June.  He has been a dedicated and inspiring rector who will be greatly missed, and we wish both Joel and Anne the very best in their retirements.  Fr. Joel's letter to the parish is posted below in its entirety.  

                                                                                                                                             April 28, 2019

My dear parish family,

     I write this letter to announce my retirement: my last Sunday at St. James will be June 16th. This will be the culmination of 33 years of ordained ministry and 15 years as your rector. There, that was the extremely hard part.

     Our 15 years together have been a source of great joy and a truly spiritually rewarding experience for me, and I hope it has been for you, as well. We have been through quite a lot together, and as I look back over these years, which have flown by, I can state unequivocally that we have done some incredible mutual ministry to further the Kingdom. Your devotion to our Lord shines forth in a myriad of ways, and I thank you for all that you have done. It has been a blessing to be your rector.

     Kevin Todd, your Senior Warden, and Vicki Wright, your Junior Warden, will be speaking with Bishop José and the Canon to the Ordinary and together with the Vestry, they will develop a plan of action for the future of St. James and our Lord’s ministry with you. There are many St. James people who are wonderful, prayerful, Christian servant leaders, who will discern the will of God as the next adventure in your history continues. As Dame Julian of Norwich said, “All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of thing shall be well.”

     Anne and I will be staying in Hendersonville as we do not want to live anywhere else. Our children and granddaughter are all relatively close, and quite frankly, we do not believe that there is a better place to live than here in western North Carolina. The Episcopal Church and our Diocese have clear boundaries for former rectors, which is to say that former rectors cannot continue to have a pastoral or liturgical relationship with the parish after retirement. I intend to fully and willingly abide by those expectations.

     Please know that I love you and will continue to keep this wonderful parish in my prayers, thoughts, and heart for the rest of my life.

With great love,

The Reverend Dr. Joel G. Hafer