Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself. – Romans 12: 9-10 (Common English Version)
Hope is here. Love is here. Family is here.
These words are just some of the ways that you as a congregation talk about being a faithful community that loves God and welcomes the neighbor. I have been privileged to see the many ways that you make those words come alive. Over my time as an intern I have consistently seen how Bay View United Methodist Church transforms words into action. I am grateful personally for the way that you consciously formed yourselves to be a teaching community, helping me to grow in my pastoral identity. Of course, I have a couple of great pastoral mentors in Kelly and Andy, but I was able to grow in a response to God’s call because you supported me. Beyond my personal growth I have been blessed to have taken part in a vibrant model of what it means to be Christ’s followers. There is so much about who you are as a church that I love and will take with me.
As I first came into the community, BVUMC had just finished the process of joining the Reconciling Ministries Network. I was excited to be part of a community that openly firms all people and I had experience with being in a reconciling congregation in college. What I came to learn was the value that you hold for all people extended beyond a welcoming statement. Your emphasis on the heart of community meant that kids are welcome to stampede up the center aisle during children’s time. Care for your neighbors meant building a rapport with Bread and Jam guests. Faithfully walking this journey of life together meant leadership of GriefShare and opening the church to AA programs. The heart of community was not just claimed in word, but embodied.
As I graduate this month I want to say thank you for the opportunity to learn by doing. The seminary has taught me a lot, but I have learned so much by being in ministry together. My time spent in community with BVUMC is the type of learning that will further me in ways that the seminary cannot. Thank you for helping me to grow and nurturing genuine community.