I am writing to share the news that our Bishop, Rev. Warner H. Brown, Jr., and the cabinet of the California/Nevada Annual Conference will appoint me to 70% time at First UMC Palo Alto and 30% time at Trinity (Mountain View) UMC, effective July 1, 2013. Let me say right away that a great deal of prayer and consideration went into this decision. I want to encourage you that this is a decision born out of faithful and creative thinking and at its heart seeks the very best interests of the ministry of Jesus Christ in this place. It is also an open door to our future ministry and I can imagine God inviting us to some combined blessings shared between us at both First Church and Trinity United Methodist Church.
Rev. Kristie Olah, our District Superintendent, and I have met with the Staff Parish Relations Committee where this plan received unanimous support. Together we will be living into the changes it will bring and our SPRC will help explore the new vision of pastoral staffing and other staff needs.
Mostly we have thought about this in terms of how I will spend my time. I think this is helpful. In approximate terms let me say that I will preach at Trinity, provide Pastoral leadership in the continued work of their Visioning Team, and visit the sick. In addition to Sunday work, that means I will include about 1 day per week of focus on Trinity. I will continue to be present and in servant ministry at First Church as a fully committed part of your Pastoral Team, including participating in the preaching schedule for Sunday mornings.
I affirm this plan and am encouraged by the positive and helpful benefits that I believe it will bring to both First Church and Trinity.
Pastor Kristie Olah will work with Trinity to navigate the financial participation part of this transition. I am confident that we are moving in a healthy direction for First Church. I take very seriously our leadership promise to this congregation of a revised, balanced budget as from July 1. We can now anticipate keeping that promise. It also relieves us enough of the chronic money woes that we might plan carefully for dedication of our resources to ministries of children, youth and young adults.
I’d also like to lift up important work, already underway, that will become key to the way forward. Firstly, this appointment change for me is not an appointment change for Pastor Sadie. We will continue to be blessed by her presence, energy, passion and visionary sharpness among us, thanks be to God! At the same time, Pastor Sadie and I are moving to a smarter, more equitable, more faithful model of Pastoral Ministry. We have worked together and under the affirmation of the SPRC will initiate a Co-Pastoring model, stepping away from the traditional hierarchical “Senior” and “Associate” naming of the Pastoral team. In this way we can fully share ministry for the good of the mission of the church and fully live into our gifts and graces as individuals. Also, we can continue to enhance a strong pastoral team. We are moving the church toward equity in clergy roles and status.
This is the day that the Lord has made. It’s not exactly the day that any of us, including me, could have imaged God was making. However, I earnestly believe this moment in our church life has God’s Holy Spirit all around it. And that gives me great encouragement. The timing for us as we seek to hear our own calling more clearly could not be better. I believe, as Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann, that “hope does not need to silence the rumblings of crisis to be hope.” We can at once acknowledge our reality together and yet embrace the hope that God promises ahead for us. I and Pastor Sadie are here for you in this time of change. We both believe in you, love you very much, and we know that together we can make it.
I ask for your prayers as we enter into this new season of ministry to which God has called us. If you have an interest in conversation, I am eager to hear from you. Please reach out to me or an SPRC member for continued clarity on this opportunity.
In Christ, Pastor Michael Love