I’m so excited and grateful to be serving First Congregational as your Interim Minister for the next year while the cabinet moves forward with finding a settled/called pastor. I love this church and I love what it stands for and does in the community. As I told the cabinet at one point in this process, I believe strongly that the whole notion of extravagant welcome is very close to the heart of the Gospel. It’s an energizing and inspiring thing to see that played out with commitment and faithfulness by all of you.
In the interest of transparency, let me share with you that as things progressed after Dave’s resignation announcement, I began to wonder what my role here would be. And I saw the members of the cabinet struggle with that question as well; they were suddenly faced with genuinely wanting to do the best thing both for the church as a whole and for me as an individual. My own personal discernment process was rocky until I began to sense that perhaps God was nudging me toward the interim position. When someone on the cabinet said that she was sensing that very same thing, I felt something inside me shift and the possibility became more and more affirmed in my heart. The future feels very bright to me.
Although I won’t be a candidate for the settled/called position, there are so many wonderful things we can do together in the coming year. And because I’ve been here and worked with you, I believe I have a feel for how to proceed both from knowing what specific responsibilities interim ministers are called to do for churches in transition and from the kind of knowing that comes from spending time with, and
loving, you—the members and friends of First Congregational.
I want everyone to know with what amazingly care-filled diligence your leaders on the cabinet have been working since Dave’s announcement. They have not only given of their time (extra meeting upon extra meeting), but they have given their hearts to this process. Leadership in any capacity, but perhaps especially so in the church, requires courage and authenticity. You walk a tightrope between sometimes competing interests, between the present situation and the unknown future, between wanting to do the exactly right thing in circumstances that simply do not lend themselves to exactitude. Members of this cabinet love this church and have given themselves heart and soul to this process. Next time you see them, I hope you’ll thank Josh, Carol, Ann, Dennis, Katie, Linda, Bob, Phil, Malcolm, Sarah, Mike, Claudia, Sue, and Paige—at one point or another each of them has been present.
Several of you have already expressed concern for what will happen to me after the interim time is over. Well, of course, the future is open-ended, and who knows? What I can tell you is that ministry has always provided lots of options for me. The truth is I’m not worried; I’m excited about this next year. I’m excited about how we’ll continue doing ministry in the name of Jesus Christ in this world, and about how God will work in our lives to clear the obstacles to becoming the people and church God wants us to become. Being a Christian isn’t always easy; but it’s hugely important and deeply meaningful. The world needs what we have to give.
With you on this amazing journey,
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Update: Here's the letter I wrote to the congregation when it was announced late last week that I've been contracted to be the Interim Minister: