It was announced that this year, I will be taking an appointment change and leaving Wesley UMC.
It was all pretty surprising and unexpected. I hadn't requested a move. My church hadn't requested a move. We both thought we were doing good ministry and that it'd continue that way for awhile.
Last time I moved, I had asked for it. And after asking I had talked with a couple of DS's to get my name out there and let them know who I was and what my gifts were. So, I guess I assumed if I were up for a move again it would be because I had asked for it, or at least I would have a clue that I was being considered. I didn't. Not one single clue. (Though I suppose God was planting seeds in my mind that would have suggested moving sooner rather than later, but I was gracefully ignoring that.)
Anyway, first came a "heads up email" one that said, "You might be getting a call from another DS." Might, like "might happen but probably won't?" or might like "we've changed your appointment and someone will be calling?" More like the latter. I was devastated. I love my appointment. The people I serve are amazing and faithful and willing and have servants' hearts and I was not prepared to leave. I was out doing visitation, so I did one more visit and then drove home and shared the news with Rick. We sat and cried together. It was really tough news to wrap our heads around.
And then we waited, and waited, and waited. No call came. Not that night. I sent the description of ministries at Wesley to the DS to try and help them find the best incoming pastor for Wesley. And then we waited some more.
Rick had a contract interview for his new church the next day, so I emailed and asked for some clue about where we might be going. We had no clue. It could be San Luis Obispo, it could be Hawaii, it could have been in a neighboring city. I asked "Will it be in the area?" and was told no. Which, honestly, living in Southern California, didn't help a lot. I realized after asking the question that what I might define as "in the area" and what the DS might define as "in the area" could be two very different things. So, we had Rick go to the meeting and move forward recognizing the information we had could not be shared, and we had no real idea if he would or wouldn't be able to take the job.
So we waited some more. We waited through Tuesday, and then through Wednesday. And Thursday came and there was hope of a call, a promise of a call, and then nothing. It felt a bit like purgatory. There was a lot of waiting, wondering, frustration, confusion, grief, and no answers.
I kept wondering why I was being moved. I thought, "But I'm doing good ministry!" Being moved definitely felt like a punishment I didn't deserve. Yes, I know I'm Methodist. Yes, I know I signed up for itinerancy and that's part of my vows. I get all that. But that hardly seemed relevant at the time. And waiting in the land of not knowing didn't help to pacify my concerns.
Finally, on Friday morning the call came. The DS said, "So, you're moving, yay!!!!" and I said, "You know I like serving where I am right?!" He said they did and that they also thought it was time for me to spread my wings a little bit and go to the next place.
I can't say I was relieved when I finally heard the name, I didn't know the church. I knew nothing about the ministries. And frankly, I was still moving and didn't really want to be. But, it did help to assuage a number of my fears. It let us map out Rick's new job from my new church and know it was do-able, not ideal, but do-able. We, of course, checked out the website. And we waited some more. This time for the introduction, for the confirmation, for the permission to move forward with figuring out the logistics of packing and moving and changing our life around.
While my initial grief was profound, I have had time to process and to accept this change. I've had a chance to talk with the pastor and meet the SPRC and some of the staff and to get excited about the possibilities of new ministry in a new place. I've had time to think about and appreciate all of the MANY things we've been able to accomplish in 6 years at Wesley UMC. I've been able to relish the gift of grace and healing I have received from the congregation at Wesley. They are amazing. And they live their faith in unbelievable ways. And I've acknowledged that they/we are in a good place for a move. It was unexpected, but we are in a strong and stable place. A place that won't suffer years of set back because of a poorly timed move. I have peace about the change.
And, as of July 1st, I will begin at Valencia UMC, and I thank God (and the cabinet) for that opportunity.