blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him…
I am writing to share news with you today that marks a new season in the life of St. Lydia’s. Over the past months, I have been feeling a tug at my heart. It is a tug that I know well: it is God telling me that something is changing, and I am being led in a new direction. After much prayer and discernment, I know that it is time for me to step down from my role as Pastor of St. Lydia’s.
This is a hopeful moment because you, the congregation of St. Lydia’s, are ready to fly. You’re ready to step out into the future that God is calling you toward, discovering more about who you are as a congregation, how you are called to be a place of hope and healing in the world, and who is called to lead you forward in this next, shimmering stage of life.
It’s also a sad moment, because we love one another. Over the past eight years, you have taught me to be a pastor and a preacher. I have been privileged to serve as a shepherd to this community, and I have loved each of you deeply. We’ve made a community together, sitting around the table, sharing the stories of how that mysterious presence we call God does mysterious things in our lives. Those tables are where I learned to tell my own stories, and I was privileged to be asked to hold yours. You are my heart. I will carry you with me wherever I go.
The good news is that we are a people of the resurrection. Each week we tell a story of a God whose life is buried inside death. We trust that in every loss we encounter new life is waiting, ready to spring up.
A Path Forward
There are many questions that I’m sure you have about how things will unfold as St. Lydia’s moves into this next stage. I will depart from St. Lydia’s at the beginning of May. The Leadership Table and I have been working in relationship with the Metropolitan New York Synod (our local denominational body) to create a transition plan. This will involve an “Interim Pastor,” who will come to shepherd the congregation during this time of change. The interim’s job is to help the congregation learn from this in-between time, explore your congregational identity, and navigate the call process for the person who will be your next Pastor!
There will be a lot of change and some uncertainty. However, St. Lydia’s is a strong congregation. Our practices are deeply rooted and our identity is well-formed. As we often sing at St. Lydia’s, “what we need is here.” You have all you need to continue to be a congregation of love and welcome.
Next Steps for You
So what’s next? How do take in this news as a community? Here’s what you can do:
–Come to Church this Sunday or Monday. We’ll be together, and after church we’ll stick around, drink some wine, and just have a chance to chat.
-The Leadership Table will be hosting several Community Chats that will give you a chance to speak with them about this change and share your hopes and concerns. Chats will take place Tuesday, March 7 and Wednesday March 14 at 7:30pm at Building on Bond, and Saturday, March 18 at 2:00pm at St. Lydia’s.
-Save the date for a Community Meeting on Saturday, March 25 from 1-3pm, which will give us an opportunity to talk together about the changes St. Lydia’s is negotiating.
–Keep showing up. Transitions are hard on congregations. Things are changing! Your presence at worship, welcoming new-comers, serving in roles, and just being part of things means more than you might realize. It’s your steadiness, commitment, and consistency that will be the basis for a strong transition for the congregation.
–Remember we’re all human. My departure will mean different things to different people. It might bring up some other losses you’ve experienced, or you might be disappointed or angry. All these feelings are part of this process, and I am experiencing this loss as well. Let’s offer each other grace and forgiveness as we navigate these waters.
What’s Next for Me!
I do not have another position waiting for me after I depart from St. Lydia’s. I am feeling called to spend some time resting and reflecting on the eight-year adventure we’ve been on together. I also have an opportunity to work on a writing project, so I’ll be digging in to some quiet time outside New York City to dedicate myself to that work. A big part of my discernment process is asking how I’m called to be a voice and witness during this moment in our nation’s history. I would like to continue to be involved in community organizing and justice work, and continue to share the story of the God who invites us across borders and boundaries, into relationship with one another, and toward justice-making.
The context isn’t quite clear yet, but I’m sitting with the questions, knowing there is much in store. As my friend Ana said once, “leap and the net will appear.”
Though there will be much to grieve during this time, there is also so much to celebrate. Throughout the founding of St. Lydia’s, we have worked together to ensure this is a congregation that can thrive after the departure of its founder. This, your first pastoral transition as a congregation, will be a unique process. It speaks to our congregation’s maturity and capacity to grow beyond what anyone could have dreamed that first night we gathered for Dinner Church in a friend’s apartment. God has so much in store for St. Lydia’s.
With so much love,