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Null and void: If only that were an option

Null and void.
That’s what I’d like to stamp across a letter I recently received. Then I’d cram the letter in an envelope and return it to its sender.
But that’s an unrealistic and probably unhealthy approach to dealing with the news I received almost two weeks ago.
The letter is from my pastor at Corydon Presbyterian Church, the Rev. C. David Cliburn. In it, he announced with “great sadness and some joy” that he is resigning — after 14-1/2 years — to become the pastor at Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church in Raytown, Mo. The move to the Kansas City area puts him and his wife, Shelley, near their daughter, Kristin, their son-in-law, Justin, and their new grandson, Brennen.
The news was shocking to most of us. After all, Pastor Dave, as he is called by almost everyone who knows him, and Shelley purchased their own home a couple of years ago and the church manse was sold. Their son and daughter-in-law, Drs. Daniel and Liz Cliburn, recently took jobs that allowed them to relocate from the Kansas City area to Charlestown, putting them so much closer to Daniel’s parents.
Null and void? Hardly.
Webster’s definitions for null include amounting to nothing; having no value; insignificant.
If that was the case, I wouldn’t be writing this column and there wouldn’t be so many wet eyes in our church lately.
Pastor Dave accepted the call to CPC in the summer of 1987. The Rev. Marion Garrett, who had served as the minister for 20 years, had retired the previous year. The congregation consisted of mostly older folks, and there was very little to attract young blood to join the rolls.
But the hiring of a 39-year-old man changed that.
I spent quite a bit of time with Pastor Dave during his early years at Corydon Presbyterian. I was the church secretary and a youth leader his first four years here. I witnessed first-hand the enthusiasm and compassion he brought here. He gave new life to the church. New people, even families with children, became members.
The youth program flourished. The teenagers enjoyed playing floor hockey with their pastor, who was as competitive as they were. Week-long work sessions were held at Camp PYOCA near Brownstown and provided lasting memories for anyone who has helped. And who could forget the Opossum Trip taken in the fall of 1988?
There was an excitement in the air at CPC.
Soon, a dream that some members had in 1984 to build a new facility became a reality. In 1995, Corydon Presbyterian Church’s new home was completed and provided a much-needed place for the community to use.
But Pastor Dave didn’t limit himself to his pastoral duties at CPC, which included privately counseling many people in crisis. His involvement reached far beyond the church walls: There was the Harrison County Ministerial Association, Hayswood Theatre, the Madrigal Singers, which Shelley also was a part of, Community Unity, Corydon Rotary Club and the Martin Luther King celebrations.
Besides resigning as organist and handbell choir director at CPC, Shelley is leaving behind many piano and voice students.
Are you beginning to see where the void comes in?
A void: Vacant; being without; emptiness; a feeling of want or hollowness.
During his first sermon, on Dec. 2, after announcing his resignation, Pastor Dave compared what some of us might be feeling to the emotions of someone who has lost a loved one or close friend.
Dozens of books have been written about coping with grief, and while the number of stages a grieving person may experience varies depending upon the source, there are some basic phases: shock, denial, anger/resentment, guilt, bargaining, depression, acceptance/hope.
Everyone experiences grief differently. Some people might spend some time in each stage, while others’ mourning may include just a couple of phases.
Personally, I experienced a brief shock, spent about 2-1/2 days in denial, quickly explored guilt, and am now stuck in depression. I am working toward acceptance and hope.I’ve been happy for the Cliburns since their announcement. I know how important it’s been to my parents to be as involved in their grandchildren’s lives as possible, and I’m thankful that my children and my nieces and nephews have had the opportunity to develop a close relationship with their grandparents.
I’m hopeful that God will lead Corydon Presbyterian Church to select someone as its next pastor who will lead us into the direction we need to go during this next phase of the church life.
Null and void? Anything but.