When Sybella and I lived in Sparks prior to coming to Stockton and serving Holy Cross, we had the privilege and pleasure of singing with the Stockton Symphony Chorus for several years. The choir director who prepared us to perform with the symphony orchestra was one Jennifer Tibbin, whose “day job” was choral director at Damonte Ranch High School in Reno. Jennifer is an ebullient and exacting director who prepared us well, who maintained high standards and held us to those standards. Still and all, her motto was always: Flexible and easygoing. She tried to embody that ideal and hoped we would emulate her leading.
As Holy Cross United Methodist Church navigates the next couple of months of transition from my pastoral service to the leading of the present—yet incoming—Pastor Tevita Vaikona, I am hoping that all of us will live up to the hope of being flexible and easygoing. There will surely be decisions made and directions taken which will alter the way things have always been done. May I just say, many if not most of those alterations will be for the better if we can trust that those making the decisions have the best interests of the whole congregation at heart.
For that trust to be built will require that all those in leadership are abundantly clear about why certain decisions are being made. It will fall to those leading the differing committees to over communicate what is going on, and what is motivating certain responses to problems or crises. Please do not assume people know…they most likely do not, and ignorance breeds confusion and rumor and distrust. I have always been of the opinion that, even if I don’t like the decision that has been made, I certainly want to know what it was.
When a new pastor begins her or his service, the tendency will be to look for faults, how she or he don’t match up to the pastor who just left. Please don’t do that: I have done the best I could among you, and I have messed up a lot; the pandemic certainly did not aid our efforts across the last three years. Pastor Tevita brings different skills and capacities to his role as your pastor: get to know what those are; generously imagine how they can be employed to grow Holy Cross in grace and service.
I am hopeful that the next few months will increase drastically the interplay between Islanders and non-Islanders so that greater appreciation can be nurtured and grander dreams of shared ministry can blossom. From where I sit, I see great possibility, but it will require the good will and wholehearted investment on the part of everyone for those possibilities to become pursuits worthy of the love of Christ. I commend you to just such pursuits!
Yours for Christ,