It is with great difficulty that I write this Printed Blog to you in preparation for our June newsletter. Our faithful editor, TennieBee, is being incredibly gracious as I am well beyond her deadline. In all honesty, I’m wrestling with this note to you all because I know this will be the last one.
I’ll never forget that first Sunday of July of 2014. You may remember a sanctuary filled with people eager to see the “new pastor.” And then he never showed! Obviously, my recollection is different, since my view was of the Sharp Memorial emergency room. If this story is new to you, I woke up that morning realizing I was suffering from an allergic reaction to a prescribed medicine, and my face and hands had swollen to the point that—at least as I perceived looking in a mirror—I looked like Bob the Tomato from Veggie Tales!
Of course, Ron and Louis and the capable leaders of PB UMC stepped up and worship was surely wonderful. We continued the following Sunday with learning and spirit-filled worship, and have continued to grow in faith and love together. We have learned from one another and about one another.
I remember that first All-Church Picnic and participating in the ALS challenge that was popular at the time. I remember joining in music alongside incredible musicians. I remember time with youth, being inspired by these leaders and their deep faith. I remember laughing with children and even laying on the floor together looking at the ceiling! I remember holding hands in prayer while tears were given in grief. I remember celebrating marriage equality and San Diego’s annual Pride events. I remember celebrating the lives of people who have touched our spirits in ways that will continue to endure. I remember incredible generosity and compassion and commitment. I remember profound learnings in workshops and studies, challenged to new ideas by members of this amazing congregation.
What I mean to say is that PB UMC is a vibrant community filled with love and hope and joy. This is a faith community filled with joyous music and artistic flair, with deep compassion and hearts for those who are marginalized. This is a community with capable leaders who are passionate about the love of Jesus and sharing that message in both word and action.
And this is a congregation who has met challenges with incredible grace. It is never easy to change Pastors. It wasn’t easy in the 1990s, it wasn’t easy in 2014, and it won’t be easy in 2020. This is a congregation who has been able to step into livestream-only worship with technical ability and melodious spirit. This is a congregation who has faced the changing landscape of religion and faith by stepping boldly into doing new things.
I am thrilled for the people of PB UMC and what is possible for you. You have an amazing team of leaders who are envisioning exciting things! I hope you will step into leadership alongside these faithful Christians with the understanding that God calls us all to serve. I am excited for the arrival of Pastor Lori, who I believe is equipped for leading PB UMC into fresh expressions of faith in this community.
And though I part with a sad heart, as I express grief at the relationships that will change, I also carry some hope. I hope for you all as you continue to grow in knowledge and in spirit; and I hope for the ways we might be able to continue to collaborate together. With Pastor Lori’s rich connection with the La Jolla congregation and my history with you all in Pacific Beach, perhaps we might find new ways to collaborate and be in ministry together. Perhaps we might even be able to model new ways of ministry for other communities to emulate as the church steps further into the 21st century.
Perhaps. I hope.
With love, with grace, and with more than a little grief…