(And The Top Ten Questions About Pastor Michael’s New Appointment)
I am very excited about my new appointment. On July 1 I will continue to serve God in the midst of First Church. And, I will begin to do the same in the midst of Trinity Mountain View UMC. I know God’s love is in both of these congregations and that encourages me. I will divide my time as well as I can at a rate of 70 percent at First Church and 30 percent at Trinity. I’ll bet most weeks it won’t be an exact divide, but should average to this over the long haul.
This is different from re-appointment for another year or appointment to a new assignment. Both of those are the changes we are more used to, if it’s possible to say that we ever get used to them. But we are itinerant ministers in the United Methodist tradition—Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says, “traveling from place to place, esp. on a circuit, as a minister or judge”—and we who enter the vocation understand up front what the calling means. But this new appointment is neither and both of those. I am staying and I give thanks to God that I am sent by the Bishop and cabinet to continue with you. And, I am also going and I similarly give thanks that I am sent to serve God with United Methodists in a place where I may be helpful. And so I am very excited and a little nervous. I know you are, too.
Questions abound. When will I preach where? Will our Sunday night classes continue? What will happen on Sunday mornings? How will Wednesday Wesleyans work? How can I possibly add another church to my schedule? If you are asking yourself these questions then we are in close company, because I am, too.
I’ve been praying about this. And I’ve conversed with Pastor Sadie about this. And I’m in coffee chats with church staff and leadership. And now, I need your guidance as well. I would love to hear from you about a couple of topics that I’ll share below. You will probably be able to spot them in the “Top Ten” list. (Hint: Look particularly at numbers 6 and 5.) But, first let me say that I’d love to hear from you about just about anything that concerns you in our time of transition. I hope you’ll let me know so that we can navigate together.
And now those Top Ten Questions About Pastor Michael’s New Appointment.
10) Will Pastor Michael preach on Sunday? (Yes, at about the same frequency as I currently am. Thanks to Pastor Sadie’s willingness to preach regularly, we share the schedule about 50/50. That will continue. The only difference you will notice is that when Pastor Sadie is preaching, I will not be there as Liturgist. There’s an opportunity to serve the church in this; see number 5, below)
9) Will Sunday night classes continue? (Yes, also at about the same frequency as currently. We have had several per year with seasonal breaks. We’ve looked at topical issues as well as studied together in Lent and Advent. I look forward to growth in this area for our church and we would be helped by the emergence of additional teacher/facilitators.)
8) Will the sermons be on, or off, the Revised Common Lectionary Readings. (Yes. Pastor Sadie and I will continue to plan for sermon series from time to time on topics that we think might be interesting to the congregation. We’ve received good feedback for those series as well as for the times we’ve “preached the lectionary,” so we’ll continue to do both.)
7) Will Pastor Michael ever be able to preach like Pastor Sadie? (Alas, probably not. And I am delighted by the addition of Pastor Sadie’s vision and engaging presentation that continues to bless our worship time.)
6) What will happen on Sunday morning? (In other words, will we find an opportunity to revisit our Sunday service schedule? And see if we can make our Sunday morning a bit less hectic? And improve everyone’s experience in every worship service and Sunday School class? And lighten the pastor’s load on the days when he might need to be at both churches at some point on Sunday? I say, why not? Any thoughts you have about improvements to Sunday’s schedule that might help in these way would be appreciated.)
5) How can we help the pastoral staff during this time of transition? (In many ways. Continue your faithful and friendly prayers for us, we are lifted up by them. Step up in leadership, find a way to serve in the congregation—there’s a lot to do besides all the meetings! For example, a really great and fun way to help now would be to help us expand the number of lay people who serve in the worship services and the number of volunteers who teach or assist in Sunday School. These two areas alone will be invaluable in the immediate future. If you prefer a short-term commit; volunteer for VBS this August.
4) How about that great small group meeting at Channing House? Will it continue? (We call ourselves the Wednesday Wesleyans and yes, we’re continuing. In fact the idea is so popular that we’re exploring a similar group at Lytton Gardens. Stay tuned!)
3) Why does Pastor Michael wear that collar/yoke/white thingie on Sunday? (Well, I sometimes do and sometimes don’t. But, often when I do it’s because I am going to be in worship or conversation with the Fijian members of First Church. In the Fijian church life, the more formal garb identifying the Talatala is a mark of the office of the Pastor. I’ve also worn my collar from time to time to visit in the hospital or to attend a public meeting where I can then be quickly identified as a clergy person.)
2) Is Pastor Michael leaving? (No, I am not. I love you all very much and serving God in this place is a tremendous honor. I am entering my 5th year as a part of your pastoral team and I think I’m finally getting to have some sense about who we are and where I am. So, I’d rather stay, if it’s okay with God and the Bishop and everybody, so that I can put this orienteering to work. I look forward especially to the sacred work that I believe is ahead for both First Church and the people of Trinity Mountain View UMC.
And now, the Number One Question About Pastor Michael’s New Appointment
1) How can Pastor Michael do everything!!!??? (Well, I can’t. Thanks to conversations with SPRC, I am focusing my efforts on Worship, Pastoral Care and the Missional Life of the church. I will rely on the good work of staff and laity for much of the administration of the church. I am “downsizing” most of my Conference duties so I can concentrate on the local churches I am charged to tend. I am adapting and growing as I go. You have all contributed your love and support. I have great love for you all and have learned a lot about you as well as myself. Thank you for our shared ministry. Thank you for your grace and a hand offered to help me up when I have stumbled. Thank for your continued love of the people who seek out First Church as a haven from the storm. And, thank you for your commitment to the ministry of compassion and justice beyond the walls of the church.
Remember, the Gospel in ten words or less is: “You have been set free. Now go tell the others.”
May we continue to learn and discover together the great love that God has for all God’s children.
By the grace and peace of God, I am a servant of Christ,
Pastor Michael Love
Memorial Day, May 27, 2013