An open letter to friends and church family

Eight years ago my family and I moved to Hollywood to begin what has become the most rewarding and inspiring chapter of our lives. Our family has thrived in this urban, spiritual community commited to peace, love and justice.

Sadly, this phase of this experiment is coming to an end. This Sabbath will be my last Sabbath as the Pastor of the Hollywood Adventist Church. Hours and hours of conversations have led to this point but here is the short version.

Some of the leadership decisions I have made have led the Southern California Conference administration to the conclusion that they cannot trust me to lead this church as a Seventh-day Adventist Church. They have graciously acknowledged my creativity and passion for the community we serve. They have acknowledged that the church is known in the community for its good work whereas before it was less known. But they feel that my leadership has led our church outside the accepted framework of Seventh-day Adventism. We have not been able come to an understanding about these things and so my denominational employment will end on or about April 1, 2013.

This turn of events breaks my heart. I have served the Seventh-day Adventist Church imperfectly for 19 years. It is the only thing I have done since graduating with my Bachelors Degree from Weimar College when I was 22 years old. But sometimes people grow in ways that are incompatible with the institutions they have been a part of.

I am beyond grateful to have served the Hollywood Adventist Church for the past 8 years. We have built an authentic community which is diverse in every way: young and older…and now children!, multi-ethnic, poor and middle-class, gay and straight, artists, business people, teachers and civic servants.

While I will be leaving paid pastoral ministry, I am not angry with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This denomination has given me my whole career and most of my education. I have been able to do the things I have done because the church has supported me. For that I remain grateful. I wish her only the best and I believe that there are many signs of hope within the denomination including the advances in Women’s Ordination. At the same time there are signs of calcification and retrenching that cause me deep concern.

My future is not yet clear, but I am hopeful and confident in God’s leadership. Please keep my family and me in your prayers as we make this difficult transition. We have no plans to move at this point, so we will be in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future.

Do not lose faith. And when you do, cling to hope. And when hope fades, resort to love.

Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. —1 Cor 13:13

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