Welcoming Our New Interim Minister, Reverend Dr. Charles Svendsen
Reverend Svendsen’s first Sunday as our “official” Interim will be July 7, but he has graciously offered to lead our worship service on June 2, including preaching and breaking bread with us as we celebrate Communion. That is a long way of saying that you will have an opportunity to meet and begin to know Charles in four weeks.
Next month’s Pilgrim will tell you more, but for now please know that Reverend Svendsen became a Pastoral Transitional Specialist in 1985 and since then has served as Interim Pastor in United Church of Christ and Presbyterian congregations in some 19 churches, in six states and three countries. Most recently he has served as Interim Pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Portland, so he is well acquainted with the nuances, challenges, and opportunities presented to Downtown congregations.
I quote from Rev. Svendsen’s Personal Information Form: “In my 34 years of ordained ministry, I have always been fulfilled where my gifts and concerns match the strengths and needs of the congregations. I believe that my best ministry is put forth at the point of a church’s greatest need. Put another way, I thrive on helping people to problem solve.” And, “I take pastoral ministry seriously; certainly I work hard at it, and my sense of humor helps me hold my perspective.”
Ideally we would have had an Interim Minister leading us by mid-May, but the Council believes that selecting the best candidate for the position is the most critical element of this process. I am reminded that the Spirit does not always give us what we ask for but blesses us with what we need.
To be sure, all of us who work with Sara, the church staff, and members, and who carry our ministry into the community, will need to maintain our commitment to lay leadership in the coming weeks. Walter John encouraged us recently to not wait to do the work we can do now. In small ways and great ways we will thrive and learn, and possibly be the most creative and spontaneous we have ever been, even as we look forward enthusiastically to the work we will do with Reverend Svendsen.
Please approach me or other Council members with any questions. You can always reach me through calling or emailing the church office.
With joy and care,
Julie Young (Moderator)
Church Celebrates 21 Years as Open and Affirming Community
Many members and visitors filled the church January 27 to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the church's vote to become Open and Affirming. The vote fully welcomed the LGBTQ community into the life and leadership of the First Congregational Church and it helped to set into motion a study process and voting at many other churches in the Central Pacific Conference of the United Church of Christ. Conference minister Rev. Dr. Walter John Boris spoke at the service about the value of the rich "mosaic" in our faith communities.
Read the story about the anniversary celebration in The Oregonian.