As much as we sometimes say otherwise, most of us struggle with change.
And we know that in just a few weeks, we all have to figure out how
to deal with some big changes. My family is already packing boxes and
donating other things as we prepare to move into a new house and prepare
to attend a new church, find a new mechanic, a new grocery store, a new
favorite gas station, and on and on it goes. Thankfully, at least this
time we don’t need to worry quite so much about changing school
Here at Trinity, your changes will be somewhat less, but I know that
there are a few of you who really struggle with far smaller changes.
More than one person has confided in me that they are uncertain about
having a female pastor. I understand that Trinity Church has never had a
female pastor and that many of you haven’t either. But I was in your
shoes once and as folks have shared their concerns with me, that is the
story that I’ve been telling them. Since I’ve heard about those kinds
of concerns more than once, I thought that I should share that story
with all of you.
Back in the mid to late 1990’s Patti and I were still attending the
church in South Akron where we met and where we were married. This was
the church where my father had been the pastor in the early 1980’s and
that’s how I had begun my membership there. After several more male
pastors had succeeded by father, the bishop and the cabinet announced
that our next pastor would be female. There were many concerns
expressed throughout the church. It was nearly a shockwave of concern.
Some of the leading families in the church were known to be very
conservative and at least one of the patriarchs of those families was
rumored to be openly racist. People thought at a woman simply would not
be welcome as a leader of the church and many feared that her
appointment would divide the church and that whole families would quit
But they were willing to give the new pastor a chance.
And, as far as I know, not one person left the church. Because you
see, although Pastor Linda was a woman (obviously), she was found to be
more conservative in many things, than several of the male pastors that
had been at our church. She didn’t come to our church with an axe to
grind or anything and more than that, she did something else.
She loved us.
Linda just loved on the entire congregation and many (okay, all) of
the old curmudgeons that we worried wouldn’t like her, fell in love with
Linda too. In the end, Pastor Linda stayed at that church longer than
any other pastor in the history of the church.
There were changes that we had to adapt to though. Some because we
had a female pastor, others because every pastor has their own unique
personality, and still others because Pastor Linda’s husband, Pastor
Mike, was appointed to a church across town. Where we had grown
accustomed to the pastor’s family attending our church, Linda’s didn’t.
Pastor Mike rarely ever came to our church. I think I saw him two or
three times in five or six years other than when we visited them in
their home. When Mike and Linda’s kids were in town, they most often
attended Mike’s church, if at all. It wasn’t what I expected. It was
But different isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just different.
For many of the same reasons, you will find that things here at
Trinity will be different. Tina is going to be good at different things
than I am, she might not be good at some of the things that I was,
she’s going to like, and dislike, different things, she might run
meetings differently, and I’m sure that there are a lot of other ways in
which the two of us are different. Only one of those things is our
gender. And after our experience with Pastor Linda, as well as seminary
classmates, and other colleagues, I no longer even consider that to be
an issue at all.
Different isn’t bad. It’s just different.
In the last six years, our family has fallen in love with Trinity
Church and many of the people in it.
You can be sure that I will be
praying for all of you in the days ahead.
I hope that you will do what our church in Akron did.
Just give Tina a chance to be your pastor.
My bet is that you will fall in love with her too.
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