Greetings, soon-to-be Friends!
I key in these words from a currently-sunny though cool Jacksonville, Florida—not as cool as the Northeast this Mothers’ Day weekend! I moseyed over to the beach yesterday, remaining socially-distanced, of course. I intend to pull my Penske truck out of Jax on May 18 or 19, leaving what folks here call the First Coast. I will point my vehicle north on I-75, stopping for a bit at my homestead in Xenia, Ohio, then bending a bit to the north and east toward the North Coast. I will renew my acquaintance with Rochester, New York later that week, preparing to begin my work at Third Presbyterian Church on June 1.
I don’t need to remind you that we are traveling through interesting times. Covid-19 has thrown a once-a-century wrench into normal life. Blend in the reality that leadership in churches changes on a more or less regular basis, as it has for you now. I am aware of your church situation and I am preparing to enter with a plan to get up and running in a big hurry! I intend to spend time communicating with your staff and key volunteers even before June 1. We mostly likely will not yet be in a position to resume anywhere near normal activities. I do plan on creating many virtual opportunities for us to get to know each other. We couldn’t imagine even four months ago that we would be required to bend and flex and adapt so quickly to do church in this new situation. Yet, here we are; and we are getting it done! It’s that old necessity thing!
I am a dedicated career interim pastor. I have served four installed positions along the way, including one wonderful stretch in the ‘90s at Lakeview Community Church (RCA) in Greece, NY. Third Presbyterian Church will be my twelfth interim assignment. I’m pretty sure I can say that there are few transitional challenges that I haven’t faced. Now I can add pandemic to that list. Although I arrive with lots of training and experience, surprises of all sorts will greet me. Figuring out what demands the most immediate attention provides me with excitement in each new location.
I want to commend your IPNC members and HR chair, Rose Peet (whose name brings a smile to this SW Ohio baseball follower), for their straightforward interactions with me. It appears that you have been served exceptionally by the Rev. Lynette Sparks. I hope you create unique ways to celebrate her ministry among you and to send her off to my growing-up neck of the Great Lakes woods. As I stated above, I plan on interacting with her and with continuing staff members to ensure a smooth beginning of my time at Third Presbyterian Church. I enjoy the challenging aspect of my calling. Even though I qualify as an old dog, I am looking forward to the new tricks I will undoubtedly be required to learn. As far as I can tell, I won’t be the only person around Third Church imagining creative ministry options during this interesting time.
I eagerly anticipate meeting you all. I invite you to join me in giving your best to the ministry and mission of Third Presbyterian Church as we initiate our work together.
The Rev. Conley A. Zomermaand, PhD