Greetings, new Friends!
I arrived in Rochester on June 1, after a little more than a week tending to matters around my Ohio estate (a 50’ x 140’ city lot, a glimpse of which is attached). I am excited about joining you in this season of lessons yet to be learned. We have truly never done church this way before! Twelve times I have begun an interim assignment, so it doesn’t take me too long to get set up. It is my first stop where folks haven’t been beating down the doors on a Sunday morning to see the new, tallish, balding being in their midst. So we have to imagine new ways of being together. Before the weekly staff meeting on Tuesday, my paper calendar had all open spaces. That changed quickly! I will be seeing you on Google Meet soon!
One thing you will soon (I hope) find out about me is that my office door is almost always open when I am in the building—which will also be with regularity. In fact, my church office serves as my pastoral headquarters. What does that mean? If you want to communicate with me, call the office phone first. My availability for visitation remains constrained, but I am ready to chat by phone and electronic means. I am a dedicated email user. I text short messages but usually prefer email as the full-size keyboard better suits my stubby fingers. Important fact: I do not usually carry a computer (smart phone) in my pocket. My office phone and office computer serve as my primary means of communication. I will soon be securing a local cell phone for use after office hours. I will let you know as soon as that happens.
When I am in Rochester, I generally work every day. I save up my days off and return to my home in Ohio for several days as my work and your church schedule allows. I will inform you when I will be away from the area. At this point, I know for sure that I will be in Rochester through worship on June 28. So if you see me around Rochester, you don’t have to feel bad about talking “business.”
What do you call me? I will most often self-identify as “Pastor Z.” You may address me that way. Or adults may use “Conley.” Some folks take to calling me “Z.” That works, too. I encourage younger folks to address me with a title of respect, and “Pastor Z” works just fine. I am proud of the PhD I earned years ago, but only in academic settings do I refer to myself as “Dr. Zomermaand.” I don’t expect or prefer that from you all. I am among you as your pastor.
I am going to talk about a transition topic in worship this Sunday, but that will not be my every-week focus. You’ve bid farewell to some beloved church leaders over the last several months, an anxiety-producing reality. I will remind you during worship that the vast majority of vital leaders in church life remain in Rochester and leading Third Church well.
That’s enough for now. I look forward to getting to know you and working with you in this very important transition time in the life of Third Church. Off we go! Woohoo!!
The Rev. Conley A. Zomermaand, PhD