In Ecclesiastes chapter 3:1 we read: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…”. With this beautiful strand of verse from Ecclesiastes, we are compelled to embrace the changing nature of the world and the unfolding of our lives. Consider the story of Riverside over the past two years.
We left a building, saw it razed and then worshipped in two interim spaces over the course of two years (Jefferson Middle School and Westminster Presbyterian); we built a new and beautiful church on a corner that is arguably the hottest corner in the District at the moment. We moved back in. We have adjusted and we have overcome. We have secured our church with an endowment and in the midst of all of that, we have continued to worship and care for one another. That’s a lot!
When we began that process, I promised the leadership and the church that I would remain until we had accomplished these two goals of an endowment and a new building. Now, five months after our move-in, I am convinced by way of lots of prayer and discernment that it is time for Riverside to also begin its transition to new pastoral leadership. Sunday, May 5th, I announced to the congregation that I am concluding my pastorate on December 22nd.
What happens next? A logical, purposeful process of consultation for the Deacons and Trustees with Rev. Paul A. Clark. Discussion about an interim pastorate and the hiring of an interim by January 2020; study of our context and hopes; and the eventual creation of a pastor search committee (that process is overseen by the Board of Deacons) which likely takes a year. Just as we intentionally addressed our hopes and fears in the transition from our previous building to the construction of our new church, we will construct a way forward. We hope and pray for a seamless handoff with a process that eventually brings new pastoral leadership for a new church in what is very much a new community. As I stated in today’s sermon about Joshua, we must now be of courage and dedicate ourselves to fearlessly moving forward. “We’ve come this far by faith,” as the song goes. We will carry on so this Baptist church of inclusion with its prophetic voice of justice and peace might continue to speak and remain a safe harbor for all people. ~PSTR