FOUNDRY UMC: What Lies Ahead
By: Val Sachs
On April 30, FOUNDRY members met to discuss the news they had heard the previous Sunday – that Pastor Christian was being reassigned to Santee United Methodist Church this summer. Understandably, there were many questions and concerns among the people of this growing, new, faith-life community. After opening the meeting with a prayer, the following discussion took place. Understanding that many at Foothills UMC might have similar questions, we share the minutes here as well.
The basic structure of our Conference was reviewed. FOUNDRY has been a ministry of Foothills UMC, which is part of the East County Mission Area, which is in the South District under the leadership of District Superintendent (DS) Rev. John Farley and a cabinet, who is under the leadership of Bishop Minerva Carcano of the Cal-Pac Conference of the UMC. Rev. Farley was the lead pastor at Foothills and one of the team who envisioned the creation of FOUNDRY in East Chula Vista. The District Superintendent oversees around 75 churches. Appointment decisions are made by the Bishop, under direction of the District Superintendent and with the wisdom of the Cabinet.
Other players in FOUNDRY’s funding and leadership:
In early April, PATH1 submitted a report to the Bishop, Cabinet and DS that FOUNDRY’s attendance, though growing, wasn’t growing at a rate that indicated an ability to be self-sustaining anytime soon. The decision was made to move a 20-hour/week, new pastor (thus, one who isn’t paid as much as our long time pastor – a factor of the mandatory equitable compensation structure) into the lead pastor role at FOUNDRY. The new pastor’s position at FOUNDRY begins July 1, 2015 as does Christian’s appointment as lead pastor at Santee UMC.
Christian wasn’t expecting this change; has expressed his belief to the DS that it is too early to leave FOUNDRY yet knows that his responsibility is to serve where the Bishop assigns him. He is both saddened to step away from FOUNDRY and excited to see how God will use him at Santee. There was a “perfect storm” of need in the East County mission area as Santee’s lead pastor has taken ill and unexpectedly resigned. A need for a bilingual ordained pastor at Chula Vista UMC (which the new pastor will be appointed for the other 20 hours/week of their appointment) pointed to the decision to count FOUNDRY as a member of the South Bay Mission Area, which includes CVUMC, Nestor, Imperial Beach, National City and Park Hill’s UMC. Though FOUNDRY administration will be moved to CVUMC, Christian has received assurances from the DS that FOUNDRY will remain autonomous with regards to church activities, decisions, etc. The new pastor must be appointed to a chartered, self-sustaining UMC.
Though the particulars of this haven’t been fully disclosed to the CV congregation, Rev. Parcel has been preparing the congregation with sermons outlining how a successful (large) church such as themselves, can help the other struggling churches in the area by sharing resources….finding their unique ministries and working together. An example of this is the vital homeless feeding program at Imperial Beach UMC that is thriving with the help of many CVUMC members. The bottom line is that people in that area need the love of Christ in the form of food and showers, and it is being supplied because UMC members throughout the region are working together to meet the need. FOUNDRY will become a member of the South Bay Mission Area, which actually makes sense from a geographical standpoint. CVUMC has an active youth group and some large activities that FOUNDRY members have already taken part in and these can be great advantages for our newer faith-life community.
The following questions were asked during the meeting:
How can FOUNDRY be expected to grow when a pastor is being assigned to work fewer hours at the church than the previous pastor?
This is a good question and one that the new pastor will need to address. Though we can’t announce who Christian’s replacement is; the person who is being suggested for this position is a young man who is excited about stepping into this new ministry. Also, he is bilingual which could be a huge boon to this church. Finally, the 20 hour-appointment isn’t set in stone; if the growth of FOUNDRY warrants more of a time commitment, surely the DS is able to increase it. It is important to remember that this new ministry began with Pastor Christian assigned to 20 hours/week.
How many people will be leaving FOUNDRY when Christian moves?
There’s no way to know this and it is premature to conjecture. Christian’s family members will probably move with him as expected. Christian asked that members of FOUNDRY wait to make a decision, giving grace to each other and the new pastor and his family. Pastor Christian, his family, friends and people of FOUNDRY have spent several years loving this new church start and to leave prematurely, without giving the transition a chance, would not respect the people of FOUNDRY and all the hard work offered to make it what it is today.
Do most of FOUNDRY’s people live in CV?
Many of them do and several of the families that come from the East County actually live in Jamul and Rancho San Diego...relatively short drives to FOUNDRY.
Can we tell the new pastor what we want FOUNDRY to look like?
Yes! He will want to know what things exist now that should continue; and what things we would like changed. One family has already said they want Children’s Moments to continue during worship. Another family has voiced how much they enjoy, and hope to continue movie nights in the park. There will be times to meet with the new pastor as this transition continues. We will be taking a poll of the congregation of what they love what they could do without and what changes they’d like to see.
Will Christian adhere to the customary one year restriction of staying away from the church a pastor has left to facilitate the new pastor’s transition?
The DS and Christian realize that FOUNDRY’s position is a unique one because it is still young and in formation. Christian will be available to this church even when he is not appointed here. That said, he wants to give the incoming pastor room to explore and bond with this congregation. Pastor Christian plans to help guide the new pastor as long as it takes to help keep FOUNDRY stable.
Does Christian want people to let him know if they plan to stay at FOUNDRY or not?
No, the hope is that people will give this transition a chance to evolve; the new pastor a chance to build relationships. FOUNDRY members are asked to take the time to prayerfully decide where they will worship. Christian’s suggestion: give it at least three months, to give the new pastor a chance to get comfortable; to build a relationship with the pastor and the new people that might come because of this transition and to support one another.
What do FOUNDRY’s finances look like?
FOUNDRY has no debt other than a fixed cost lease payment for our space. There is also money in the bank thanks to a gift from Rolando UMC when it closed and sold its property. Christian will ask all who pledged for 2015 continue to honor those pledges. He will also invite Foothills members to make a one-time financial gift that can be seed money to the church as it transitions to CV. FOUNDRY is in excellent financial shape right now, but will need continued commitments of FOUNDRY members and new CVUMC pledgers.
What are Christian’s requests of this congregation?
- Form one, or several small groups to meet during this transition times. It will be good to gather, without him, to discuss the future. Start slowly and maybe plan for only a six-week commitment.
- Identify current leaders in the church and begin conversations of giftedness and interest. There are needs to be met. Who will put out signs on Sundays? Who will help with financial oversight? Who will take a lead role at movie nights if we choose to continue them?
- Give the new pastor time to make his own transition. Maybe commit to attending FOUNDRY through 2015; or at least three or four months.
- All FOUNDRY members are asked to attend the reception for the new pastor on May 20 and show the hospitality that this church is known for. We won’t pepper him with questions or concerns….rather show him the love this community has for others and new members who join us.
Some comments from those in attendance:
"I’ve seen these appointment changes in three different churches and it is always stressful at first. There is often a dip in attendance and then it bumps back up again….it is all part of the cycle."
"Christian has been part of the transformation of my faith in this past year. If we selfishly keep him here at FOUNDRY then others can’t experience that transformation. It’s hard, but we need to share him."
"Santee UMC looks like it has some cool activities if you look at their FB. Maybe there can be some partnerships."
"In the Navy, changing the captain doesn’t sink the ship."
The meeting was closed in prayer.