Beloved Epworth Community,
Easter greetings to each of you! On Sunday, May 5, a letter was read from our District Superintendent Rev. Staci Current in worship at both Epworth and Monte Toyon informing us that Bishop Carcaño intends to appoint me as pastor of both Epworth and Trinity UMC in Berkeley. Bishop Carcaño will also be appointing an associate pastor to assist in leading these two communities. (Update 5/19/19: Rev. Brian Adkins will be appointed associate pastor.) Both pastors will be full time. Additionally, the members of Trinity are being asked to worship at Epworth rather than having worship in both locations.
The letter that can be viewed here and provides more details of this upcoming transition. Change always takes some adjustment, but overall I am very hopeful about the opportunities that this change presents. It is an acknowledgment that Epworth has been effective at reaching out and welcoming all, and that the conference wants to support our growth.
As many of you know, Trinity is adjacent to the UC Berkeley campus. The congregation has been in a process to redevelop its property for several years. When I was serving as a campus pastor at UC Davis, I led the redevelopment of that property. These experiences with campus communities and in property development are now needed at Trinity.
Let me assure you, I am and will continue to be your pastor. I love you and am honored to be your pastor. I believe that what we have at Epworth is very special, and needed especially in these times of isolation, fear and loss of meaningful life. There are so many around us who have a spiritual hunger that is not being met. I believe this is a call to work with the members of Trinity to meet that hunger, and though there are dimensions to this new configuration that may be challenging, I welcome the opportunity to go more deeply into what it means to respond to a call and to reach out.
Trinity is a Reconciling congregation and a Sanctuary congregation. In fact, Trinity was one of the original East Bay Sanctuary Congregations under the leadership of Rev. Ron Parker and designated itself a Reconciling congregation before Epworth. There is much resonance in our commitments and vision already.
Please know that our Pastor Staff Parish Relations Committee (PSPRC) and I will make every effort to ensure that communication about this transition is regular and transparent. We’ve provided an FAQ below to respond to some of your initial questions.
I thank you for the openness and excitement that you’ve already shared with me about welcoming Trinity folks, and for your compassion as we acknowledge that this change represents some grief and loss for Trinity in change of pastors and worshipping location. I trust that God will guide us and the Holy Spirit will inform us as we move into this future together.
Pastor Kristin Stoneking
Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Two-Point Charge
Appointment to Epworth and Trinity United Methodist Churches
Why is this change happening?
In the United Methodist system, pastoral appointment changes are discerned by the Bishop and District Superintendents as they consider mission strategy for the entire conference. Our district, the Bay District, was formed through a restructure in 2017 with an intentional mission to grow new places of ministry, reach out to new people, and engage the rich diversity and potential of San Francisco and the East Bay. Bishop Carcaño and her cabinet have discerned that this shift is necessary for effective and fruitful mission and ministry in Berkeley.
What is the “Mission: It’s Possible” strategy referred to in the letter from the District Superintendent?
Since the beginning of 2019, a group of Epworth’s leaders have been working with leaders from other churches in the Bay District. We are organized into “circuits” which include 3-4 other churches. Our circuit is the Berkeley-Albany circuit made up of Epworth, Trinity, Albany UMC and Berkeley Methodist United Church. Pastor Kristin is the circuit leader. Our Mission: It’s Possible team has received training in analyzing the demographics in our area and reaching out in effective and responsive ways. The Mission: It’s Possible team includes Pastor Kristin, Dianne Rush Woods, Becky Wheat, Judy Cayot, Merrie Bunt, Paul Nasman and Caroline Lee. Because we are working in circuits, we can see where we have overlapping or complimentary ministries as well as where there are gaps in who we are reaching and serving.
What is a two point charge?
It is an appointment where one pastoral team pastors two churches in a single region. There will be one staff and one set of lay leaders and committees, but the two churches will remain two entities with two names and separate financial records. The Board of Trustees for each church will continue with a coordinating body.
Will Trinity members come to Epworth?
They will be encouraged to do so by the District Superintendent and welcomed by our congregation. It will be up to individual members to decide whether they will worship at Epworth. We hope to take particular action to “make room” for Trinity members.
Why does the conference need a pastor to lead a building committee?
A church building project goes beyond permits, design plans and project management. A church building project is a call for service and requires a pastoral leader to guide the process towards creation of a church space. This requires an understanding of the relational issues as related to the church and an ability to keep those in focus among all of the other details of a building project. The bishop has called our pastor because she is uniquely qualified to lead such a project with both the required grace and project knowledge.
What is the connectional building committee?
The committee’s members, drawn from the conference, district and circuit churches are described in the letter from the District Superintendent. This committee will collaborate on the redevelopment of the Trinity site.
How is an associate pastor appointed?
The Bishop appoints all of the pastors in the conference each year. When an associate pastor is appointed to Epworth s/he will be introduced first to the PSPRC with an opportunity to get to know each other. Although the appointment is considered final, both the PSPRC and the pastor have the opportunity to request reconsideration by the Bishop before an announcement is made to either congregation.
When will we know about the associate?
This process is happening in our conference now and we will likely know in the coming month. The appointment will be effective July 1.
What are the challenges and what are the gifts?
Epworth is thriving and on the precipice of needing additional help for the pastor to lead a growing church. That would be a financial burden we are not ready to take on as we grow. This will give us the opportunity to have a second, full time pastor as we grow, with financial support through the connection. In return, Pastor Kristin will join the connectional building committee while remaining our lead pastor. For the greater Berkeley community, we are being called to participate in a project with the ultimate goal of growing ministry and reaching a broader community than we currently reach.
Will this divert us from our other missions (ie: sanctuary, LGBTQI+ inclusion)? Will this change Epworth?
We will continue our current missions and may have the opportunity to incorporate new members into those efforts or learn about what work they are currently doing in the community. The building project itself may provide the opportunity to expand our mission service in engaging with affordable housing issues in our community.
How is PSPRC involved in this process?
PSPRC is the body that oversees the needs of the pastor and is the direct connection between the district superintendent and the church when a new pastor is being appointed. We will be responsible for meeting the newly appointed associate pastor and welcoming him or her to the church and helping him or her connect with the congregation, much like we welcomed Pastor Kristin two years ago. We will also work closely with the two pastors to ensure a clear understanding of the balance of work and the communication around implementing a new structure for them and for the rest of the church staff. PSPRC members are: Diane Downs (Chair), Sharon Strachan, Gregg Richardson, Filipe Maia, Becky Proehl, Stephanie Sisk-Hilton, Julie Munro, Aaron Elliott, Connie Adachi, and Becky Wheat (ex-officio, Lay Leader liaison).