I write with mixed emotions to let you know that on Sunday, April 16th, Westwood Lutheran Church in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, affirmed my call to become their next Executive Pastor.
This means that I will be leaving Peace. My last Sunday will be June 4.
I’ll be in the Fellowship Hall this Sunday, April 23, from 9:30-10 am, along with council members, to talk about this with anyone who wants to connect.
I know this comes to many of you as a great surprise. I am sorry. I wish I could have told each one of you in person. I hope this timeline gives us enough time to grieve together, celebrate what we have done, and begin the transition process.
Peace is a gem of a congregation. I love Peace. I love your particular proclamation of the gospel; your character and your grit; your creativity; your wisdom; your commitment to social justice; your generosity; your faithfulness. I look back on the past decade of ministry with awe and gratitude.
It will be very hard to leave. Besides being a terrific congregation, you have also been very supportive of me and my family. We are grateful. I’m especially sorry to leave those of you who have just come to Peace — we were just getting started together! But all churches – and this one in particular – are not driven by the pastor, but by the people and the Holy Spirit. You are what makes Peace, Peace. That will not change.
The decision was one of the most difficult I’ve ever made. It was Spirit-led. Ridgeway and I spent countless hours in prayer and conversation as we truly invited God into this process. Ultimately, four things came together that made it evident that this was God’s call.
- The location. Westwood is located within 10 miles of my parents and all my siblings. We look forward to being near them as we all get older. And because we won’t have to travel to see my family, it frees us up to visit Ridgeway’s family more frequently too.
- The church itself. Westwood is a fabulous church that in many ways reminds me of a bigger Peace – much bigger, with 2500 members. They have uplifting worship and are clear about their values, which include racial equity, and LGBTQIA+ rights. Like Peace, they have a missional sense that the grace of baptism leads us to courageously engage with the world around us.
- The position. As Executive Pastor, I will be on a pastoral team in a “shared leadership model.” This means that I will have a different work/life balance as I work collaboratively and share responsibilities with a terrific team of pastors and lay staff.
- The timing. This is a good time for Peace. The congregation has a sweet spirit. Peace is healthy and filled with an abundance of talented, faithful leaders. We have terrific staff and meaningful community partnerships. We have finished a capital campaign and yet have not dug into the next big thing. And we’re through the worst of the pandemic. I can leave Peace now trusting that your next Pastor will be able to pick up and begin a new, beautiful chapter. The timing also works for our family, as our kids are at a good age to move.
These four factors came together in this call and so, when Westwood determined that I was the right fit, with the Spirit’s leading, Ridgeway and I decided to take this step in faith.
Over the next weeks, the synod office will come alongside you and help with the transition. I have been in conversation with them already about what Peace will look for in an interim pastor and beyond.
I will try to spend time with as many of you as possible, but I also know the time is going to fly. Peace is permanently in my heart (I got married, had two kids and lived through a pandemic with you!). At the same time, I am certain this is a good time for me to say goodbye and trust that God will find you a pastor that will surprise and delight you with the gifts she, he or they bring.
I ask that you be sensitive to our daughters in this transition. They’ll be going through a grief process in leaving the only home they have ever known. They love Peace too, and you have helped raise them.
None of this is easy, but I trust in the promise of the resurrection, the unshakable bond we share as God’s church, and the ongoing journey of discipleship. I am forever grateful for you.