11 months ago I left my church, left LA, and left social media to come to Portland for a year-long appointment as the visiting professor of theology at the same seminary I had studied at 7 short years before.
It has been an eye-opening year. The seminary has changed a lot in 7 years. Education (higher ed in general and theological ed specifically) has changed a lot in 7 years. I have changed a lot in 7 years.
I had an epiphany of sorts this spring and I reached out to my denominational friends in the Portland area. I let them know that I was interested in getting back in to pastoral ministry and that I would be transferring my ordination to their Methodist denomination. The reception was so warm and so welcoming that I took it as confirmation. The Spirit of God is up to something. I can feel it.
Fast forward 3 months and I am just weeks away from being appointed to a church in SW Portland. I am beyond excited. The church is small and in need of revitalization, but the thing that it has going for it is that the congregation cares about things that matter and they serve their community. That is an exciting point to build on.
The two issues that occupy my imagination right now (before I start) are:
- Transitioning the Sunday gathering to a more conversational engagement and transforming the sanctuary to a more versatile space. I have this vision to hybrid the two excellent models from the church in LA into one dynamic experience that incorporates liturgical elements, embodied practices, and critical conversations.
- Reaching out to new people with an invitation to a truly different kind of church environment. I have been ‘workshopping’ some ideas with the post-evangelical folks that I know to see what they think of the plan. Early feedback is good.
So I am inheriting this wonderful older congregation, a cool but outdated building, the wisdom from my experience in LA, and a mandate for change & growth from my denominational leadership. That is an electric combination.
Add that to a year of reflection and rest and I am just about busting at the seems to get started.
Thank you for your support this past year and for your prayers in the months to come. I get appointed June 20th and then officially begin in July. I can’t wait to partner with this congregation to reach out to our neighborhood and see what God might do with us.