Over the last weeks I've been debating whether or not to pursue a second term as Church Council director. Even as I was thinking and praying, my bishop was working! Bishop Paup strongly encouraged me to consider accepting an appointment to First United Methodist Church in downtown Seattle. The church's pastor, Rev. Kathlyn James, has recently been appointed to serve at the Edmonds United Methodist Church. This meant an opening at the downtown congregation beginning July 1 of this year.
It didn't take me long to determine I just couldn't leave the Council prior to the end of my 5-year term. It just wouldn't be right to step away from a commitment I'd made some time ago, even though the prospect of serving the church is something that feels very right to me. So I suggested to the bishop that an interim pastor be selected and that I begin serving the church on July 1, 2008. After some deliberation, he said "yes." So, the Rev. David Gillespie will serve the church as interim pastor for a year, and I'll fill the position when my Church Council term expires.
What's the draw to First Church? For one thing, it's my home congregation. I joined the church on Palm Sunday 1975. The church paid 100% of my tuition through seminary, and I interned there in 1979.
But also, this is an important time in the life of the congregation. It's struggled to work through building issues (landmark designation, potential demolition, sale proposals, etc.) and is just about over them and ready to face a new future. The ministry of a downtown congregation is exciting, and I have always felt the call to a public ministry.
So, that's what's up. I appreciate the bishop's willingness to hold the door open for me for a full year. I've never heard of a United Methodist appointment that was made over 1 year in advance. It does make me feel good I have my bishop's support. I'll miss working at the Council, but I have another 15 months to make continued good impacts here. Then it'll be back from whence I came.