Acting Associate Minister Shawn Fiedler to Leave Old South Church

Letter from the Rev. Shawn Fiedler
July 7, 2022

Dear Old South Church in Boston,

I am writing to share that Sunday, August 28 will be my final day at Old South Church. 

In 2019, when the leadership invited me to serve, it was a happy homecoming. Having spent two years as both a Seminarian and Pastoral Fellow at Old South nearly a decade ago, I have so enjoyed being back in your good company. 

When I accepted this call, I could not have imagined what we would face together: a crippling global pandemic, a season of racial reckoning, a near collapse of American democracy. Through it all, you invited me–you trusted me–to share in the most intimate privileges of Christian ministry. We buried your beloved. We celebrated your marriages. We splashed among the waters of baptism and shared the feast of Christ’s  communion. You encouraged me to don wigs and tutus to  make a fool of myself to spread the Good News to our children. You gave me the authority and trust needed to ask hard questions about God, our humanity, and the sins of our past. What was meant to be a short, temporary position, has been one of the most formative experiences of my career. 

For a few months now, I have felt God’s steadfast call to change direction in my life. Last fall, I noted the beginning of this discernment to the church officers, who responded with affection and support.  I don’t need to tell you how difficult these past many years have been for all of us. My commitment to the church and our common ministry  during this extraordinary time has not wavered. Together, we have worked hard to keep this ship of faith afloat through stormy waters. To that end, it is time now that I focus on my commitment to my family, my partner Joshua, and myself. I have accepted a new role as a Major Gifts Officer for Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, Illinois. I am looking forward to partnering with them in this ministry of generosity. 

I am committed during these final months to doing what I can to ensure a smooth transition. Below is a letter from Rick and the Lay Leadership detailing what’s next. During this time of transition, I remain ever hopeful about God’s plans for you. I will be watching from the sidelines and cheering you on as you lean into that promising future. 

With deep affection,

Letter from Church Leadership
July 7, 2022

Dear Old South Church in Boston,

Nothing surpasses the way the Psalmist can put a finger on both the circumstances in which we find ourselves and the stirrings of Spirit that those circumstances set off.  Shawn’s poignant letter evokes the observation, in Psalm 145, that

God upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down. 
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. 
You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing.

At a moment that was perched, more than we knew, on a season of great need and trial, Shawn came to us as though from the hand of providence: a whirlwind of skills and talents, energy and faith to see us through some of the most arduous months in memory.  He has filled his position on our ministry staff to overflowing, and helped us establish a habit of turning crises into opportunities, and even into reminders of the deep satisfaction and joy of being the church together.  Be sure to mark August 28 on your calendar for a celebration of the bounty of his ministry among us, as we commission him for his next service.

Meanwhile, as the Psalmist says, God provides for those who trust the bounty of God’s imaginative love.  And so it will surely be for us as we seek a successor to pick up important facets of our ministry when Shawn lays them aside.  At their meeting next week, the Church Council will map out a plan for finding a new colleague quickly and thoughtfully.  Look for more details as soon as next week about the position and the process. 

Please hold our whole close-knit staff in your prayers as they rise to the occasion of this change in their team.  And please do plan to join us in bidding Shawn a joyful, grateful farewell and Godspeed at the beginning of a new season in his life, and in ours.  Thanks be to God!

Rick Spalding, Interim Senior Minister
Phil Stern, Moderator
Rob Gabler, Clerk
Kate Silfen, Historian 
Bill Bulkeley, Treasurer 
Kristi Geary, Trustee Chair