Dear Friends in Christ,
Before being appointed by Bishop Minerva Carcaño to the Watsonville 1st UMC, I was serving as a Campus Minister at UC Merced and Merced college for five years. The heat in the Central Valley can hover around high 100 degrees in the summer and easily over 110 degrees that can last for days. Even when the night falls the searing heat would just linger and would not abate. Coming to Watsonville feels like I died and went to heaven. I am not envious one bit of the fate that awaits your former Pastor Robin in Fresno of the Central Valley. Talk about the weather whiplash she must be experiencing after being in the Central Coast for 22 years.
Becoming a pastor of Watsonville First feels like I have parked in someone else’s meter. For 22 years Pastor Robin gave a good chunk of her life span living amongst you and building a substantive ministry with you. I am inspired and humbled by what Pastor Robin was able to establish here with her pastoral leadership. It makes my job so much easier and pleasant. So I want to say to Pastor Robin, THANK YOU! I just hope I won’t mess it up.
I recognize the loss and grief the congregation might be going through after her departure to serve at Wesley UMC in Fresno. Everyone handles loss differently and everyone has their own timeline as to how long one grieves from the loss. I want you to honor what you are going through and validate your experiences. Take time to attend to your tender and vulnerable emotions. It’s how we heal and be able to move on with the task of living. I pray for God’s healing and renewed spirit for all of you.
I am grateful to have received this appointment at the Watsonville 1st UMC. I truly believe God’s hand was in this. So coming into this appointment, my mindset is…
Go to the people. Love the people. Tell them about the transforming love of God.
I believe God has put us on this earth to teach us how to love. The 19th century English poet, William Blake, wrote, “We are put on earth a little space That we may learn to bear the beams of love.”
I learned over the years that fruitful work requires two things: grace and effort, God’s help and our effort. And our effort requires working in collaboration with God’s grace. And by working together in collaboration with God’s grace, we can do fruitful work that will last beyond our lifetime.
I have a vision for our community: a joyful place where laughter is heard often and a safe sanctuary where people can be fully themselves. A place where people experience love and practice forgiveness with each other. A safe and a welcoming place where people can let their guards down and risk being vulnerably themselves who are becoming fully human and fully divine. Frederick Buechner, a Protestant minister, an author, and a theologian, wrote, “You are a secret that God wants to make public.”
As we faithfully follow Jesus Christ who is the human face of God that turns toward with the heart of compassion and eyes of truth will transform us. As a beloved community of Christ, let us celebrate this one precious life, together, with joy.
John Juno Song