The following is a letter from Rev. Rebecca Anderson regarding where her call to ministry is leading her in the coming weeks. My spirit is torn. I have greatly appreciated having her as a colleague and have learned much about God from her passion and personality, so I will miss her presence immensely. At the same time, I am very excited for her as she endeavors on this leg of her journey with Jesus. We are a church in the business of forming and sending out world changers, and I know Rebecca will continue that great tradition. I, the Lay Leadership team, and the Staff Parish Relations Committee understand you may have many questions about where Holy Covenant UMC goes from here, so please know you may contact us with any questions or concerns.
Linda Effinger Quinde
Staff Parish Relations Committee
We will talk much more about this in person in the weeks to come, but so that you might all receive the news at about the same time, and so that you might have time to digest it a bit, I am writing to tell you that at Thanksgiving I’ll be leaving Holy Covenant and moving into my first full-time call to ministry. Sunday, November 20th will be my last day with you.
Both at my home church in Boston and here at Holy Covenant, I had the experience that some of you did too: I felt as though I’d walked into a wide space full of fresh air. I breathed in deeply and learned “God still wants me.” There need to be more churches where this is the case!
Because of this, I’ve known for several years that God’s call on my life is to transform churches; to work with congregations that are ready for and in need of change; to help vivify places that want to remain vital or become more so. I couldn’t yet picture what it would look like, but I came to know that I would work in churches who needed my zeal for
• fostering the community that grows up around the light of God wherever it flares up and
• creating worship opportunities that invite people to move more deeply into their faith and practices in new ways.
Because this is so clear to me, I have accepted a call to be Associate Minister at Glencoe Union Church, a non-denominationally affiliated church on Chicago’s north shore. There’s an experiment underway there to see what kind of life and faith are possible in that place; that experiment is work that I want to put my hands to.
When I accepted the call to be your Minister of Spiritual Formation, both the Staff Parish Relations Committee and I understood that it was a position that would extend through the end of this year. We knew I would be ordained by this point and that, as such, I would begin the process of “search and call.” Since I’m ordained by The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), this is a system different from the United Methodist appointment system. “Search and Call” is a process in which churches and clergy mutually discern a call. I have been casually and unofficially in the process of “search and call” for a long time; it is the process that led me to accept a call to HCUMC last year and it is the process that kept my eyes and ears open for where God would have me go next.
This place has incubated, nourished, and strengthened me. Go back and look as those two things I feel most called to as a pastor: community and worship. Where on earth could’ve been a better place to learn those than Holy Covenant? God called me, the Disciples ordained me, but you made me a pastor. I love this community, though, not for what you’ve done for (or to) me, but for who you are. Your love for one another and for the world, and your yearning toward God light up the corner of Wilton and Diversey. This is one of the ways I’ve come to love that thorny old problematic apostle Paul. When I read about his longing for churches he has known and loved, I’m right there with him:
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ… For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more…[from Philippians 1]
I very much look forward to spending this fall with you – U2 Sunday, Blessing of the Animals, All Saints services, and a 2nd Story evening on Nov 2nd (did you know about this?), evening services, conversations over coffee and at Mayan Palace, and getting small groups rolling. Friends, let us love one another. Let us pray for this church and all of Christ’s Church.
Grace and peace to you,
Rev. Rebecca Anderson
Minister of Spiritual Formation