Saying Goodbye…

How do I even begin to say goodbye to the place I’ve called home for 7 years? To a church family that has accepted me from day one and done nothing but encourage and lift me up. To the pastor that took a chance on a young kid out of college, and not even bible college at that!

It’s simply too difficult. There is no perfect way to do it. There is no simple, complex, or mediocre way that will bring comfort. I’m simply broken inside; humbled by the reality of this shift. I’m not confident there will be tears because I’m not sure tears are even adequate enough. But perhaps with the right words, enough hugs, and a handful of tears, I might begin to express my gratitude to all of you. 

Hope Church, you have always had my back. You have helped my family get through the birth of two kids, as well as through tragically losing a couple of amazing men in the church that I greatly respected. These 7 years have been all but easy, and yet here we are. We made it. Together we did so much and I can only imagine the great things left to come for Hope. 

Worship team, you guys have been amazing. The amount of growth I’ve seen in you ignites my heart to press on. I’ve done my best to impart what little wisdom I have to you and I pray that God would give you even more! Don’t lose heart but press on for the prize! I know that you guys will carry on the amazing music and usher in the presence of God each and every week. To all those past and present worship team members, thank you; YOU believed in me: Aaron, Becky, Jesse, Shelby, Jamison, Kayla, Drew, Chris, Michael, Cole, Travis, Josh, Zack, Brian, Bryan, Luis, Rollie, Keith, Don, Jennifer, Jerry, Arleasha, Jonathan, Melanie, Christy, Saundra, Ben, Jordan, Kendall, Sam, Mark, Jessica, Brittany, Brad, Amber, MaKayla, Brittany, Jermaine, Forrest, Brent. (Hopefully that’s everyone)

There are two people I specifically want to write to.

The first is Keith. Keith passed away a number of years back and it was one of the most difficult things I have been through.

Keith, from day one when I walked into Hope, you welcomed me, “guitar man,” as you called me, with wide open arms. You were one of my first friendships that I developed. You were a rock for the worship team, showing up week in and week out to play your acoustic guitar. For years we played together and grew closer. You even felt lead to give me a vintage guitar which I will always treasure. 

I don’t think I’d be where I am today without you. Of all of the people I have to say goodbye to at Hope, I had to say yours too early. One of the biggest sadnesses of my life is that my kids never got to meet you. Oh, how I wanted them to meet you… and I wish I could wrap my arms around you tomorrow, because I know you’d have the right words to say to help me through this. But I also know you’re much happier playing guitar in heaven now. So thank you for everything Keith. You will always be missed and you will always be remembered.

Finally, to my main man, Pastor Randall. It was all you man. You took a chance on me when it seemed like no one else was willing to. I was a hard-headed, opinionated kid with not much church experience and for some reason you said, “yes.” I hope that I’m a little less of those things now, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. I’m thankful that even though I say goodbye, I know that we will cross paths again. You have been so much more to me than just a Pastor. You have been a mentor, a counselor, an encourager and one of my best friends. If you hadn’t taken a chance on me, I’d probably still be working at staples. For that, I owe you A LOT! I’m so thankful for our friendship over the years and all that you have poured into me. You managed to somehow get me to focus in on things and hone the giftings you saw in me. I simply can’t say thank you enough for all the sacrifices you have made for me and all of the time and energy you have poured into me. The last 7 years with you have been amazing and I can’t wait to see where you take Hope over the next 7 years. 

So, thank you Hope Church. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I hope I cross paths with all of you at some point in life, but for those I don’t, I can’t wait to worship with you in heaven.

Philip Burton 


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