October 28, 2016
The Ponderings this week come from a new voice and a new heart. Let me first introduce myself. I have been asked by Bishop Karen Oliveto and Superintendent Skip Strickland to be your pastor for an interim time while new leadership is discerned for your church. My name is Dale Beck. I am a pastor whose last three appointments have been in the Denver area to churches in leadership transition. I just completed a year in Denver at University Park UMC. Previously I served Hope UMC in Greenwood Village and Brighton UMC. I do not consider myself to be particularly gifted in ministry of conflict, but have found my calling around a ministry of healing, and it is for this that I am sent. I came to First UMC on Monday the 24th and started meeting members of the church and staff. Tuesday I met with the Staff-Parish Relations Committee and we agreed to work together for the next two months so my time with you will be brief. I hope it will be rich.
Clearly there is a good deal of pain within the congregation. I see the pain of the loss of a pastor a few months ago and the pain of seeing a pastor’s health decline quickly, leading to his leaving. Last week you learned that Pat Bruns is applying for disability leave and will not be returning to First UMC. Those disruptions of leadership come after turmoil around leaders has not been resolved. I understand that your attendance in worship has been very low which is not surprising given your circumstances. I also clearly see that you have strong and committed people here, and a great staff that has been faithful and professional through a hard time. When I say professional, I mean that it seems that they have been able to hold steady while there was a lot of turmoil around. I see a congregation that has a great history, is doing significant ministry and has some great plans.
First let me remind you that our sacraments do not just declare that we are a forgiven people. Followers of God in Christ are forgiving people. We are a community that keeps loving through the turbulence of conflict, of disappointment, when people have acted in ways that we prefer they had not, we keep loving. We do not keep count of offenses. When a brother or sister is weak, we come alongside them to use our strength to strengthen them. I think of a forgiving ship that is so designed that crashing waves do not capsize it or send it off course. Second, let me urge the faith community to draw together during a time of stress. Remember that what you loved and appreciated about your pastors resides within you. You are carriers of their compassion, open-hearted love, and zeal for justice and community. Those values are at the spiritual center of this congregation. Honor those who have served you by carrying forward those values which come from the heart of God and are the substance of our ministries.
This past Monday morning, Bishop Oliveto was here at First Church and met with a number of you, She was clearly moved by your passionate ministries and by the pain that resides in your body. She called on us to move forward together hand in hand. Let us do that.
I look forward to our time together.
Rev. Dale Beck is the Interim Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church of Boulder. Email him at dab.fumc at gmail dot com.