God knows how to put first things first.
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, he had a message from God. A way of life God dreamed for God’s people that bound them together in love with God and one another.
And God put first things first.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;
Before God even talked about any of the commandments, God made a statement of who God is. God is faithful. God is a liberator. God is our God.
Before God said, “You got this?” … God told the people “I got you.”
God knows how to put first things first. And we need to remember that, too.
We are in the midst of a time of great transition here at All Saints Church. We have bid farewell and will be bidding farewell to people we have known and loved for decades. Ed Bacon after 21 years. Zelda Kennedy after 14 years. James Walker after 34 years!
These are amazing people who have led us and loved us and shown us Jesus in powerful and life-changing ways. Parting is difficult, and we need space both to give thanks for what has been and to grieve what will be lost.
And … God is reminding us “I got you.”
Remember …. this is the same God who brought us Ed, Zelda and James in the first place. This is the God who has been and will always be faithful to us. And God isn’t done with us yet.
Even as we are still saying goodbye to James and Zelda, we are searching for and God is preparing new people to come into this community and lead in powerful ways. Those people are already out there, and God is guiding the crossing of our paths. And it’s not too early to hold them in prayer, even without knowing their names.
While God does her part, I have set in motion processes for us to discern God’s dreams and fill these positions. This month, I will announce an interim Director of Music who will joyfully and creatively lead our adult choirs while a search for a permanent director takes place. I am grateful to Terry Knowles, Elizabeth Tatum, Gloria Pitzer, Melissa Hayes, Weicheng Zhao, and Jenny Tisi for their help in this process.
Later this month, a search committee for that permanent director will convene. I am grateful that Terry Knowles and Elizabeth Tatum will be co-chairing that group and that Julian Caspole, Kyle Champion, Valerie Coachman-Moore, Jamie Hebert, Andy Malloy, Sarah Phillips, Gloria Pitzer, Flor Quintanilla, Keiko Sakatani and Leslie Thomas will be serving on that committee.
In late May, we had the first meeting of the search committee that will advise me on the filling of two clergy positions – a Senior Associate for Pastoral Care, Healing and Health as well as a Senior Associate for Congregational Development. I am grateful to Cathy Keig for agreeing to chair this committee and for Brinell Anderson, Martha Barrientos, Sharyn Delahousie, Christine Hartman, Albert Jones, Juan Mejia and Norweeta Milburn for serving on it.
Our multiculturalism coordinator, Isaac Ruelas, will serve as staff resource to both committees.
The first task of each committee will be to solidify job descriptions, prayerfully considering not just our past experiences and present realities but looking forward to future possibilities.
The Director of Music search committee will then conduct a national search for candidates for that position.
For the clergy position, I will present candidates to the clergy search committee for their interviewing, vetting and counsel. For the past several months, I have been exploring candidates for these two clergy positions and am excited about the people with whom I am in conversation.
The committees will be working with our Senior Associate for Communication, Susan Russell, to ensure excellent ongoing communication with the congregation as the discernment and hiring process unfolds. There will likely be some gaps in time between when Zelda leaves and new clergy come on board, and I am grateful to the lay ministers, staff and adjunct clergy who will be stepping up during that time.
Maybe you’re feeling grief … or anxiety … or sadness. Maybe you’re feeling anticipation … or excitement … or hopefulness. Maybe some combination of all of these and maybe none of these at all. That’s natural. Transition is about saying goodbye to the familiar and launching into the unknown.
Except all is not unknown.
One thing particularly is known and known with great certainty and that is this:
God is our God. The same God who brought us Ed, Zelda and James. The God who has been and will always be faithful to us.
And God isn’t done with us yet.
Mike Kinman is the rector of All Saints Church, Pasadena. This piece was originally published in the June edition of Saints Alive — our monthly newsmagazine. For more information about All Saints visit our website. To subscribe to Saints Alive email firstname.lastname@example.org