29 July 2020
My dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, grace, mercy, and peace to you!
You may have noticed that I have been gone the last couple of weeks as I took vacation time; time off to rest, relax, and recreate. It was a time for me to catch my breath, as you may have noticed, there are a great many activities going on at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. For me vacation is a time of recreation or re-creation. It is a time not only to engage in fun activities, but, it is also a time of being re-created. I realized this more fully over the last couple of weeks as I found myself hearing the words of a former professor in Biblical studies reminding me to not forget the beginning.
Do not forget the beginning. In other words, the beginning of a text one is studying has a beginning. A beginning is not just the opening verse of the text one is studying. The real beginning is at the introduction of the book in which it is found. For example, to study Romans 13 one should not forget the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Romans. Paul’s salutation reminds the reader and hearer of the Romans Paul’s perspective. Remembering not to forget the beginning over vacation brought me to Genesis 1:1: “1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
I was brought back to God. I was brought back to the beginning. Back to creation and during vacation being re-created in the crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. This is another story. What does this have to do with us at Hollywood Pres?
A year ago in September I joined you in your journey working toward calling your next Senior Pastor. We began with a sermon series on the book of Acts and the early church. The question asked during the Acts series and is still being asked today is “Who is God calling us to be as individuals and as a church on the corner of Gower and Carlos?” Since that time we have reviewed the previous Mission Study, worked on updating the Mission Study through surveys of Session and the congregation using a format required by the Presbytery, we have collected favorite hymns, and have looked at a variety of issues. The process has been interrupted at times by the Presbytery’s requests and of course COVID-19 and staying-at-home mandates. Progress has been slow. I want you to know that I am in frequent communication with the Presbytery. My hope and original goal was for you to have a new called Senior Pastor by Kick-off Sunday 2020. Obviously, that has not happened.
Today, we continue to ask and answer the question: “Who is God calling us to be as individuals and as a church on the corner of Gower and Carlos?”
In answering the question we learn more and more about ourselves and where God is calling us. Looking at the horizon I have provided Session, Deacons, and staff with a spreadsheet to facilitate the way forward. It is a working document to align the ministries of FPCH and to keep us on track. It includes a new time table for the completion of the Mission Study and its submission to the Presbytery for approval. Once approved by the Presbytery we can form the PNC. While this is a primary objective we are still working with the ongoing ministries of the church and the challenges of COVID-19. I will keep you updated as to the progress.
Please keep Session, Deacons, Staff, and one another in prayer. Continue to seek God’s mission and vision for FPCH and yourself.
Yours in Christ,