Transitions

Dear Church,

As we begin this final week of my service as Mission Bay’s Transitional Minister, I am mindful of how complicated and confusing transitions can seem, especially when involving a change in relationships. For that reason, I want to be as transparent as possible about what this means for you and me moving forward. It is always my greatest hope that my actions honor the well-being of the whole church community, the callings you are living into, and the visions that have not yet emerged. This is what I strived for as your pastor and will continue to hold dear as my time in that role ends.

Some of you may recall that when founding pastor Bruce Reyes-Chow received a new call, he remained out of contact with the MBCC community for a year. This is a commonly held boundary across most denominations to keep pastors and communities of faith in loving, right relationship with one another when those roles change. It is a practice that I find challenging, as it is painful to say goodbye to dear ones with whom spiritual lives have been shared.  It is also a practice I deeply believe in, as it upholds the integrity of the continued journeys of the pastor and the community. I believe it is important because it allows us to honor who and what we have been for one another, while acknowledging that something new is unfolding; new voices, relationships and ministries are emerging that need space to authentically and fully form. When MBCC does enter the search process for a settled minister, and if I feel called to apply, it is important for me to do so knowing that the vision and mission you all put forth is one formed by your own aspirations in response to God’s call, rather than the influence of myself or other former leaders.

What all this means concretely is that for the year following my final Sunday on February 26, I will not be participating in the life of the church through worship, food pantry, or other MBCC functions.  I will also not continue in conversations and relationships with MBCC community members, with the exception of other ministry colleagues (including former MBCC pastors and current seminarians). I recognize that a great deal of “church” for MBCC happens over social media. To respect those places as part of this community of faith, I will be unfollowing all pages and profiles of congregants and church groups, and unfriending individuals. After a year, if anyone wishes to get in touch with me, know that it would be a delight to hear from you.

I imagine this is a lot to take in and I completely understand if anyone feels a sense of rejection, frustration, or anger at me and with this process. It does not always feel natural to me to transition relationships this way, but I believe it is the most loving and just way for both you as a community and me as a minister to move forward. Ultimately, I trust that the Spirit is moving with us all in this time, leading us deeper into our callings and to places we could not even have imagined yet.

I love each of you and the community at MBCC dearly. My sense of vocation and spiritual life has been nurtured and enlivened during my service among you. I have truly enjoyed being your Pastor and I am going to miss you tremendously. I am so grateful for each and every way we have journeyed together. I look forward to celebrating some Transfiguration Love Letters with the community this Sunday.

With a spirit of trust & love,
Pastor Lacey Hunter

A Letter From Session Elders and Pastor Lacey

Dear MBCC Congregation,

Greetings with continual hopes and prayers that everyone who is part of Mission Bay Community Church may know God’s infinite love; and that everyone may discern God’s plans for their lives—plans which are just, merciful, and holy. Being on a journey of faith in Christ together is truly a joy. And MBCC best journeys with the studied, gifted, called, experienced help of a pastor.

Looking ahead as a church to the new year, it seems good to look back on the last year as well. The guidance and support of MBCC pastors has been an uninterrupted and amazing blessing. We are grateful—just very very grateful. That said, our church has experienced what seems like an awful lot of goodbyes in terms of pastors and we are not quite finished ….

After Pastor Dawn left, we steadied ourselves with longtime MBCC/PCUSA Parish Associate Leslie Veen; and also with MBCC Pastoral Intern and UCC Pastor Lacey Hunter.

Leslie moderated three monthly Session meetings. She brought great encouragement to the MBCC elders on the interim pastor search committee. Leslie assured that the process, which has seemed rather administrative and open-ended, would be fruitful, which it has been. She graciously gave of her time and care every Sunday. As she needed to conclude her time mid-January, and before she departed, she arranged local PCUSA pastors who are coming weekly to help serve communion.

At the same time Lacey took part-time hours and tasks of regular Sunday preaching and worship prep with Jason; pastoral prayer and care for the community; communication coordination and holding space for people to deal spiritually with transitions on a personal, church and even national level. Lacey’s pastoral leadership and care has been so very healing and timely. And she has offered it generously … until such time as the search committee could reasonably call an Interim Pastor from the PCUSA.

Leslie’s encouragement of our leadership and Lacey’s overall care for the whole community have greatly helped bring the church to a situation and time when we will soon welcome Rev. Diana Bell of the PCUSA to serve as our full-time Interim Pastor. But this does mean another goodbye. We hope in the coming weeks that you will consider how God has covered the church’s pastoral care needs so very well and that you will express your appreciation to Lacey.

For those wondering about departures of former pastors, the PCUSA maintains a standard of professional space-making with pastoral transitions. This is to allow a new, called pastor to form their own pastoral bond with a congregation.

On Sunday Feb 26 MBCC’s Session will welcome and introduce Pastor Diana. Pastor Lacey will preach the Sunday message.

Please note the date and join us!

With humble, heart-felt thanks to God,

Mission Bay Community Church Session:
Alan Siu
Christópher Abreu Rosario
Denise Kendall
Ellen Burroughs
Joel Bylsma
Julio Delgado
Morgan Meyers
Sam Lundquist

*****

A Note From Pastor Lacey:

Dear Beloved Church,

Where to even begin! One of my favorite spiritual practices is that of creating Love Letters. Somehow that framing allows me to hold with gentleness and care, all of the beauty, hopes, urgency, stillness…all of the complex emotions that go into a moment, everything that pulls and tears and inspires my heart to honor this tremendous and flawed journey we are all on. I have found epiphany love letter to be particularly precious to me in these days, as the world around us continues to break open, as the vulnerability of the Divine rises up in our midst and as hearts turn, day by day, to their greatest callings of beloved-community-creation. As I reflect on my departure from MBCC and the journey that awaits us all, I cannot help but want to offer this love letter, because truly, this church means the world to me!

Our journey together goes back to 2013 when I began serving with you as your Intern Pastor. It was Mission Bay that invited me to preside at my first baptism, baby blessing, Holy Communion and lead a community in confession. Together we created Ashes on Bart, prayed together after the mass shooting in Orlando, and encouraged and challenged one another in how we engage from a place of solidarity in social movements like Black Lives Matter and Standing Rock. To share all of this with you, to learn alongside you and feel the presence of God in this place, is a blessing that lives within me and anoints my vocation. “Thank you” is not enough for the opportunities I have received in this community, for the trust you gave me with your prayers and the openness and creativity you greeted me with in worship and in this time of transition. I am so grateful we share communion together each week as it captures the adoration and hope I feel for Mission Bay.

While it is terribly difficult to journey from MBCC, my faith delights in knowing that beautiful, radical, Spirit-filled ways are open and opening here. In these last few months, amidst ongoing transition in our church and the nation, I have seen a new fire kindle and spark in MBCC. A unique heart beats in this church. I know you will continue to beat and sing out, because the world needs your song!

My final Sunday will be February 26—Transfiguration Sunday. The story of the Transfiguration is indeed one of my favorite scriptural Love Letters, and is a good Holy Day to celebrate all that we have done together and the joy of welcoming Rev. Diana Bell as the full-time Interim. I look forward to sharing these next few weeks together and to all that awaits.

In steadfast prayer & communion,

Pastor Lacey Hunter

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