March 26, 2013
Dear Christ UMC Family and Friends,
Last Sunday, March 24, our congregation received the joyful and much-anticipated news about who Bishop Mark Webb will be sending here as the new pastor. The Rev. Suzanne Block has been appointed to serve as Christ UMC’s senior pastor beginning July 1. As your current pastors, we of course have a deep investment in seeing a pastor follow us who is a good fit here. We are so pleased with Bishop Webb’s decision to send us Pastor Suzanne. She is a person of deep faith, strong leadership skills, and a fun-loving personality, and we believe God’s leading is in this appointment. Change always presents us with an opportunity to trust God more, and we know we can put our trust in God’s wisdom in this area as well.
Pastor Suzanne is currently the pastor at Homer United Methodist Church, where she has been for almost four years. Previous to that, she served on the pastoral staff at Pendleton Center United Methodist Church, one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in our Conference. She brings with her an understanding of working with staff as well as a lot of experience in helping people become disciples of Jesus Christ.
Some of you may not be familiar with how the process of getting a new pastor works in the United Methodist Church. Unlike some churches that search for and find a pastor on their own when there is a vacancy, United Methodists have what we call the appointment system. This means that pastors are appointed, or assigned, to their churches by the bishop. Bishop Webb is advised in this process by the District Superintendents (called the Cabinet). Each District Superintendent knows the pastors and churches in his or her District well, which brings first-hand knowledge to the table. Each church has a Staff-Parish Relations Committee who also gives input into the process in terms of helping the Bishop and Cabinet understand the personality and needs of their church. Together, the Bishop and Superintendents work together to be sure every church has the pastoral leadership they need. One benefit of this system is that this frees the church from having to undertake a long search process that can sometimes leave a church with no pastor for several years.
Our Staff-Parish Relations Committee had the opportunity to meet with Pastor Suzanne on Wednesday, March 20 to begin to get to know her. They strongly affirm Bishop Webb’s choice and believe that Pastor Suzanne and Christ United will have a great ministry together.
You may also be aware that both of us have been serving part-time as your pastors here, technically sharing one full-time and one quarter-time position. Since Pastor Suzanne will be full-time, there will still be a need to fill at least a quarter-time pastoral position. We will be working with our SPRC, our District Superintendent Rev. Dr. Sherri Rood, and Bishop Webb to put this into place before July 1. As things develop in this area, we will keep you informed.
Someone once said “the only people who like change are babies with wet diapers.” Change can be hard for all of us. Probably what we really fear, however, is not so much change, but the unknown. Not knowing what the future will be like is, when you stop to think about it, really how we live our lives every day. Not one of us knows what tomorrow will bring. That’s why we need our Good Shepherd to lead us through whatever lies ahead. Human nature tends to fear the worst in the unknown, but God’s grace gives us a different way to look to the future. 1st John 4:18 says that “perfect love casts out fear.” God’s perfect love for us means that we have nothing to fear – from this pastoral change or from any other part of our unknown future. God will be leading us all the way.
So what is your part in letting God lead as we change pastors?
Decide now to have an open mind and an open heart. Anticipate the best. 1st Corinthians 13:7 says that love believes the best about things. Decide to be a person of faith, hope, and love as you get ready to welcome Pastor Suzanne.
The most important truth we’d like to underscore is that God is holding us in his hands. This is God’s church, and he loves this church far more than any of us could. He wants this church to grow and thrive, and he has the power to make that happen. We have nothing to fear with God as our leader. After all, this is Christ United Methodist Church, and we can trust that he will take care of his church.
Joy in the Journey,
Pastor Kristen & Pastor Bill