In military circles, there is an interesting celebration that marks the end of one commander’s service and the beginning of another’s. Called “Hail and Farewell” dinners, they are designed to give honor to the departing leader and officially welcome the new leader to his or her new command.
It’s interesting that they call them “Hail and Farewell” dinners instead of “Farewell and Hail.” It would make sense to say goodbye before affirming a new leader, and this is often how things go in organizations. But doing the hailing before the farewelling is important – it creates a healthy continuity of leadership so that there’s never a time that the military unit is leaderless.
God’s good provision for WCS in this time of transition has included the opportunity to hail our new headmaster before saying farewell to me. Jonathan Nazigian was announced as our headmaster-elect almost two and a half months before my last day serving in the headmaster role.
The idea of greeting a leader with the word hail has a rich history, stretching all the way back to old English, where it’s cognate, hale, was used to describe someone as being truly well in all aspects of his or her life. What started as an adjective to describe someone as well (“hale and hearty”) eventually became an exclamatory greeting that expressed a desire for the health, well-being, and blessing of the one being greeted. We might first think of “Hail to the king!” when we hear the word hail, and in that context, it is similar to “Long live the king!,” or “May all be well with you!” So when we hail a new leader, we’re saying with our words and our commitment, “May your time as leader be blessed, and may you be well.”
I’m grateful to witness the many expressions of “hail” for Jonathan. Six years ago and still today, the WCS team has consistently wished for and worked for blessings on my life and leadership. I know that the humble and gifted folks who serve here will continue to do the same for our sixth headmaster. Though people are not running around saying “Hail Mr. Nazigian!,” they are welcoming him and supporting him as he prepares to take the helm of WCS.
But we also have the “farewell" part of the phrase, and once again, I find myself the beneficiary of your goodwill. Fare is of Germanic origin and means to go. Think wayfarer or seafaring. Tacking on well after fare (farewell) is to wish someone only good as they go. More than a formal parting salutation though, it is a rich blessing of best wishes for the life of the one leaving.
The word farewell is archaic and becoming obsolete, so I’m not sure anyone has actually said it to me. However, your expressions of kindness and prayers for God’s blessings on this next season of my life and work have been numerous, generous, and authentic. From the handwritten notes written by Mrs. Hilferty’s first graders, to cards from former employees who still stay in contact, and words of affection and affirmation from the many people I work with each day, I have been richly blessed in these weeks prior to my end-of-June farewell.
So—“Hail and Farewell!” While this may be a custom common only in the military, WCS is in the midst of experiencing the blessings that come from a positive acceptance of a new leader and a gracious release of a former.
I am truly grateful for the Lord’s leading to serve at WCS, and the impact of my time with you will continue to be a source of great blessing long into all my future faring. Thank you, WCS community!
With much love and appreciation,
Cultivating godly influencers
Wilmington Christian School provides a distinctively Christian, innovative education that effectively develops Godly influencers who are well prepared for life after high school and who impact the culture for Christ.