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Carl Crosier’s Remarks at Pastor Barber’s Farewell

This is not the way I planned things. After Pastor Fritz retired, I became the most senior member of the LCH staff (at least age wise and I guess in terms of longevity as well.) Are you aware that I am five days older than David? So you see, David Barber is the one who was supposed to be up here saying something at MY retirement from LCH, not me saying something at his!

As some of you may know, when Don Johnson retired after 30 years at LCH in February 2000, I was not thrilled that the Council, with the strong prodding of the Bishop, decided to hire an interim to start immediately. Fritz and I had discussed the fact that we could manage things for a few months while the Council had time to make a careful choice about the interim position.

But David Barber was selected and did indeed arrive one week later. We met the day he arrived as he was being given a quick tour of the LCH campus and then shown his luxurious accommodations at Chéz Luther Place. He recently disclosed to me that after he attended the Compline Service that same evening, he wasn’t quite sure what he had gotten himself into!

However, it became immediately apparent to me and so many others as well, that not only was David very competent and gifted, he was JUST what the Holy Spirit had ordered for us!

Do remember that when he arrived, Lent had just begun, we were one month away from the Bach St. Matthew Passion extravaganza, and Holy Week and Easter were but a few weeks away! He must have thought that we were quite literally “out of control” and “over the top.” I recall him using the word “insane” in his Easter Day sermon that year!

In rummaging through my files, I found a copy of a memo I had sent him on April 25, 2000. And I would like to quote from part of that:

“I just can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed working with you these past weeks. Your thoughtful and profound messages have been a special gift to me, especially during a time of extreme pressure for me personally. Your competent and graceful leadership in the Holy Week and Easter liturgies was especially appreciated. I really look forward to the next few months as we do some regrouping and direction setting for the future of LCH.”

Over the next year there was much work and study done by the congregation, including the formation of a Call Committee. It was obvious to so many that we had the right match in David Barber to fill that call. And I know we are all grateful that the Bishop was willing to break the rules for interims and allow David to be considered for the position. And we are forever thankful that David was willing to accept it!

At this point I want to express my sincere admiration and gratitude to Karen Barber for making the sacrifices of the separation during that first interim year, and then agreeing to leave her job and home in Colorado to live in Hawaii. During that first year I actually got to know Karen through many long-distance telephone conversations. Kathy and I made an effort to invite David to dinner, especially on holidays or birthdays, and to Hawaiianize his clergy wardrobe a bit. Karen would secretly supply David’s clericals so the shirt makers could fabricate Hawaiian ones for him as a surprise. During those first couple of years, his birthday or Christmas gift from us would be a Hawaiian Clerical Shirt (in a liturgical color, of course!) At any rate, I have appreciated Karen’s thoughtful insights and bright outlook, expressed to me over the telephone, at church gatherings or at dinners and parties. Look out, Karen, I will probably just call you out of the blue some time, to ask you what you think about something!

David, the LCH you inherited in March 2000 was marked by factionalism, distrust and oppositional thinking. Those really were the “cultural norms” at that time. Right from the start you were able to turn that around. And today the LCH you are leaving is a very much “healthier” and certainly “happier”place. I have never felt that you came with any “personal agendas” nor have you pushed any. You have always encouraged us to operate within the context of “who we are” in planning our future. That has been a wonderful leadership quality, and one that was sorely needed.

In these very short six years of working with David, I have always felt like a partner in ministry. He works very hard. He has always kept regular office hours, and I have seen him here several nights a week attending the various committee meetings. David has been a wonderful administrator, a person who can manage all the details but always sees them in the context of the whole. I have been personally enriched and often deeply touched by his preaching. I consider it a real gift to have been able to hear his sermons twice on most Sundays (not something that you will hear most church musicians say!) And I can honestly say, I have never heard him preach a sermon that I thought was too long, EVER! I have appreciated in particular their Lutheran theological base. As I said earlier, David leads worship services with a wonderful sense of reverence and grace. I have sincerely appreciated his musical ability in the sung portions of the liturgy as well. He is always prepared, and has often caught me when a liturgical detail has been left out or isn’t clear. I have especially appreciated his preparation on those things and his leadership and direction to other participants in the service.

Perhaps the most unique thing about you David, is that you are very serious about what you do, but you don’t take yourself too seriously! I think this is often expressed by your regular interjection of humor, even when you are speaking about something very serious. You always seem to be able to bring genuine humanity into the discussion of a complex issue. I have found that extremely enlightening.

You have a wonderful ability to discern what is important to say in a given situation. I remember in particular funeral services you conducted for long-time members Arnold Martinson and Fred Haehnlen during your first few months here and also Asta Chinen. You hardly knew them, but were able to speak about their special qualities as if you had known them a very long time.

I would like to thank you for the steadfast support you have given the LCH worship and music ministry and particularly the great personal support you have given to Kathy and me. When I think back over the 33 plus years that I have been at LCH, I certainly consider the “6 Barber Years” to be the very best for LCH and my ministry here. The fact that Kathy and I have enjoyed a personal friendship with you and Karen is a treasured bonus.

I wish you much happiness in your retirement. You have really earned it, and I hope it will give both of you the opportunity to do and experience things that you weren’t able to do because of your work commitments. I guess secretly, I am also hoping that after you have had a good rest, you will “flunk” retirement and feel the call to use your extraordinary gifts in some way in the future.

Thank you for the wonderful years you have shared with us. They will always be treasured.

Carl


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