Pastor’s Letter to the Congregation

Monday, March 4, 2024

Dear Orchard Park Church Family and Friends,

Just a short while ago, at their congregational meeting, the Old Presbyterian Meeting
House of Alexandria, Virginia called me to be their next pastor. I have accepted that

This decision and sharing this news with you come with a mixture of grief for who
and what I am leaving and joyful anticipation for what lies ahead. I will miss working
with my dedicated and faithful colleagues. We have experienced so many changes and
challenges, and they have taught me much about leadership and collegiality.
I will also miss being a part of Orchard Park’s vibrant worship life. As I have heard
from you and experienced myself throughout the last 10 1/2 years, worship at Orchard
Park is nourishing, authentic, and always makes sure to connect with what is going on
outside of the sanctuary.
When I accepted the call here, I remarked at the longevity of your pastors as a sign of
health. I asked, “what’s your secret?” And the response was “we believe in Grace.”
Indeed, you do. You are a congregation that believes in grace, leans into grace,
rejoices in grace, and responds in grace. Thank you for being a witness to the grace
given to us.
The decision to accept this call comes out of a season of prayerful discernment into
which the conversations with the Meeting House have led me. God is calling me on to
the next chapter in my vocation and it’s time for Orchard Park to receive new
leadership in its next chapter.
I am completely convinced that Orchard Park is in a vital, healthy place with strong,
experienced staff and lay leadership to guide your continued ministry. You are
committed to being an outward facing congregation, known in the community for
service and hospitality. You have a deep love for children and youth and a
commitment to life-long learning and Christian formation. You weathered the
pandemic, political unrest, and loss of beloved members. You are resilient and
faithful. Continue to trust in God’s steadfast faithfulness as you receive this news.
I would be remiss to not express gratitude for the prayers and support you have given
our children these past 10 years. They have grown up in the arms of the church, and
your kindness has left a lasting impact. Blake and Jackson will be staying in Carmel
next year for Jackson to finish his senior year. His faith has grown significantly at
OPPC, and he will continue to worship with you and be part of the OPPC youth
In the days ahead there will be time to say more—and to hear from the Personnel
Committee as plans unfold for the transition. My last Sunday as your pastor will be
Sunday, April 14, 2024. The Session will call a congregational meeting to take place
after the 10:00 worship service that day, for the purpose of dissolving our pastoral
Thank you for the privilege and honor of serving alongside you.

In Christ’s Service,
Rev. Dr. Shelly A. White Wood


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