Farewell Slave Lake

Pastor Tracy Ottenbreit
Slave Lake Alliance Church

As some of you may already know, I am moving on. There is a need in my family that cannot be met in a small town and my wife and I have seen the writing on the wall to move for some time.
Over the 12 years I have been a member of this community, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. Every now and then I’ll come across someone who has nothing good to say about Slave Lake and I walk away shaking my head. I have loved it here. I love the people here. To live in a forest next to a huge lake is what many city-folk call a “vacation spot.”
I have had the privilege of being allowed to write these articles in the paper by the kindness of editor Joe McWilliams and I want to personally thank him for that honour.
I have had many people tell me they read my articles. That is very humbling. Only writers know how difficult writing a column can be – the writer’s block, the fact-checking, the editing and re-editing. It only looks like a few words on a page, but each one comes at a cost.
I have had the privilege of being involved in the community in a number of ways. My passion for education led me to begin volunteering at Roland Michener Secondary School years ago. I remember plopping myself in front of the principal and saying, “I’m here to volunteer. Whad’ya got?” He put me to work immediately and was probably amazed that I returned every Friday. This turned into substitute teaching – one of the most humbling experiences of my life – and then to becoming a public school trustee – perhaps the second-most humbling experience of my life. I still feel like there is so much to learn after a four-year term. I have tremendous admiration for people in the education field and I will miss them all.
I have also had the privilege of being the RCMP Chaplain for the last six years. Being in that position has given me a deep appreciation for how much work it takes to allow us all to lay our heads down in peace and security every night. They are amazing and dedicated people and I will miss them.
I had the privilege of working with the churches after the fire to put together welcome boxes for those who lost their homes and I worked with others in Operation Christmas Cheer later that same year.
I have met a lot of amazing and heart-warming people in this community and I will miss them all.
I led the Ministerial Association, a group of pastors from town, for the last 10 years and have benefited greatly from their support. I will miss that amazing bunch of deeply loving and genuine people.
Leading my church has always been my greatest privilege. They are warm, caring, thoughtful, and very, very gracious. They have had to put up with my shenanigans for 12 years! I am not, nor have every claimed to be, a perfect pastor. I fail often and, at select times, in spectacular fashion. They continue to forgive me. They have to. It’s a Christian thing. I will miss them all dearly.
One final word: if you have ever been encouraged or uplifted or strengthened through me, I need you to understand that it is not me.
God loves each one of you so much and if you have ever felt loved by something I did or said, I believe that was God touching you.
Thank you, Slave Lake, for 12 wonderful years. Farewell.

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