“You get a strange feeling when you leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love, but you miss the person you are at this time and place because you’ll never be this way ever again.” Azar Nafasi
I don’t know who said it, but I have heard it said, “All great changes are preceded by chaos.” Chaos – that is a great description for what I have been going through the last couple of weeks and months. I think I am discovering something about myself: as wild of a spirit as I think I have, I have a tough time with change. I have a tough time surrendering the outcome and trusting that, in the end, it all works out!
I am an ordained United Methodist Elder, a position that includes ‘itinerancy.’ What that means is that we are available to go anywhere the Bishop and their cabinet deem a good fit and of benefit to the church connection at large. And yes, it is as nerve-racking as it sounds. Being part of this system takes a great deal of trust. You have to trust your leaders, trust the system and trust the Holy Spirit.
Every year around this time, you begin to hear whether you will be appointed to the same position or take on something new come July 1st. This year, I have been appointed to somewhere new. I am excited and devastated at the same time, and that feels a lot like emotional chaos.
I am excited to think of the possibilities that come with where I am heading. I am heading to a city I have loved for years – Costa Mesa. I am going to be engaging in exciting work doing what is called a ‘New Start,’ working with an existing community but birthing something new. My appointment to Costa Mesa makes sense, and in many ways this is what I have wanted. I have wanted to be in an area where I find affinity, doing exciting work and meeting new people. I get to be creative and industrious. I also find my heart broken, however. So please excuse me if I allow this blog to be a little self-indulgent, but perhaps you too have experienced this odd feeling of chaos when something good comes along. That feeling, if I could name it, is grief.
I am grieving leaving the community that I have loved and has loved me. I am one of the most blessed people to have served Shepherd of the Hills in Rancho Santa Margarita. This is the raddest community (I can say that since I lived some serious years in the 90’s and now live in Southern California); but I know if I stay I would perhaps be in the way of what God has next for this group of amazing humans. And as hard as that is to let go of, every choice requires you to not choose something else. That’s what makes life both beautiful and heartbreaking. I want to share with you the letter that will go out to my church. You can also read the District Superintendent’s letter and our Bishop’s letter here if you are interested. I share all of this to say whatever chaos you may be experiencing, my prayer for you is that what comes out of it is life-giving affirming and reminds you that change is a necessary part of growth.
Dear Church family,
I am more than in awe of the last five years we have spent together. We have been able to do so much in partnership with God and I have seen the Spirit move in huge ways! It has been an honor to serve such a kind, dynamic, spirit-led and diverse community. Thank you for letting me be your Pastor. I am proud of this community and all that it does to connect with each other and connect with Christ; it is truly a unique community.
I am writing to share that beginning July 1st, after a great amount of prayer, planning and conversation, the Bishop and her cabinet have decided to appoint me to an exciting position as the Lead pastor of a church re-start at Costa Mesa First, UMC. As you can imagine, this is going to be a lot of hard work, lots of learning and lots of leaning on God. I am excited but at the same time my heart is deeply grieved to be leaving the church that I love so much! I want to thank you all for your support, kindness and prayers over the last five years. I truly believe I would not be who I am as a Pastor or as a person without the community that you provided for me. I ask that you pray for me during the transition and as I launch into this new beginning. I will never be able to express how much all of you have meant to me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. We still have several months together and I can’t wait to see what we will do with that time as we prepare for what God has next!