Transition News

Transition News

Monday, February 6, 2023

Dear Friends and Members of Union Church,

I write with some news on our journey of transition. This past week I accepted a call to be the Interim Senior Pastor of United Church of Christ in New Brighton, MN. My ministry there will commence on Sunday, April 23. My last day with you will be Easter Sunday, April 9.

These are four sentences that contain a lot of information! Briefly I will say that in my ministry I have experienced two layers to a call from God. Sometimes there is a “call to,” other times there is a “call from.” For myself and my spouse Joanne, this is clearly a “call to.” In the past year we bought a “retirement” place in Minnesota feeling drawn to be closer to family and having experienced a sense of place that could be home.

The hard part about “calls to” is that they also necessitate being led from dearly beloved community. We see this call as a step towards moving permanently to Minnesota. We are leaving people and communities we have loved for over 38 years. You, beloved Union Church, are among that community that is hard to leave. I am so grateful for the good and sometimes hard work we have done together, with God’s help. In the words of the UCC farewell liturgy we will rehearse on Easter are these true words, “As I leave, I carry with me all that I have learned here.”

Below you will read words from our stellar and faithful Co-Moderators about the work yet ahead and how the ministry will be held in the months to come. We are blessed with denominational partners as resources for these days as well.

At the Council meeting where I first shared these words, we began our meeting pondering how the Star Word/phrase “Chosen Family” might shape our ministry to come. That phrase holds new meaning for me now. As we part company, I will smile and thank God that you enfolded me into this shared ministry as Chosen Family for a time. Thank you Union Church for all you are and all God yet shall inspire you to be.





Rev. Wendy Vander Hart (she/her)

Interim Senior Pastor ([email protected])

Union Church in Waban

Monday, February 6, 2023

Dear Church Family,

When Wendy told Jenny and me she had accepted a call in Minnesota, we felt very mixed emotions. Wendy has been so deeply involved with our church for the last two years we almost forgot she was an interim. I am sure you feel the same emotions we felt: There was shock and sadness for having to say goodbye to her, but also joy for her next step and what that might bring for her and Joanne.

I was reminded of a Dutch poem by Rutger Kopland about leaving. The last strophe goes something like this in English:

Leaving is really a form

of staying, nobody waits for you

because you are still here, nobody

says goodbye because

you are not leaving.

While Wendy is moving to another call, she will still be with us in so many ways: The Church Profile she guided us through and that will be our foundation for the coming years, the we way put our mission-statement front and center of everything we do, her deep kindness and pastoral care, her laugh that will still echo in the sanctuary, and her sermons always stirring us.

We feel a sense of anticipation, knowing this is an essential step toward the end of our time of transition. Given the search is progressing well, we are not going to call another “interim” pastor. Instead, Jenny and I are looking for a bridge-pastor for up to five months or so. The bridge-pastor would provide us with some continuity in worship and also support to Amy and our church leadership. We are working together with both our affiliated denominations, and with our HR committee on this. We will welcome your questions and comments and share further details with you on what that last stretch is going to look like at our after church lunch conversation this Sunday, February 12.

As Wendy already stated, her last Sunday will be Easter Sunday, April 9, when we will have our official farewell liturgy. But we will host a farewell reception for her the week before on Palm Sunday, after worship. We hope to see many of you on these special Sundays, not to say “goodbye”, because she is not leaving, but to share in the memories and the fellowship of a road well-traveled.

If you have any questions or concerns, as always, feel free to reach out to me and Jenny.

In peace,

Your Co-Moderators:

Jenny Weisz ([email protected])

Jaap van Reijendam ([email protected])