This Sunday, our East Side parish will move its regular service time to 10:30am!
It’s an exciting change — one we never had the volunteers, resources, or leadership to be able to pull off before, but one that I’d been hoping and praying for since we planted the parish. So I celebrate that we’re able to do it, and I’m tremendously grateful for Matthew Watson’s leadership in walking us through this transition.
But I realized this week that from this Sunday, I’ll no longer be able to worship in both parishes — and that’s actually kind of sad. The plan is for me to be in Columbia Heights on Sunday mornings if I have preaching or worship-leading duties, but otherwise I’ll be at East Side.
For the last five years, I’ve cultivated some deep friendships in Columbia Heights parish, and for the last two years, equally good friendships in the East Side parish. For five years, I’ve ministered every Sunday alongside (and in the same location as) Aaron and Amy and Jordan and others. Even though Carolyn and I live on the East Side and call it our home parish, for the last year (since I shifted to my churchwide role), I’ve tried to be at all three services in both parishes as much as possible — primarily because of all of these relationships. And so there’s some sadness as well.
Change can be good — and I give thanks to God for that. But change — even good change, even change for the better, even prayed-for change — also means loss, which means grief; and that too I carry to God.
Anyway … what started as an announcement about East Side’s time change turned into a meditation on change. Ah well …
Since Easter, we as District Church pastoral staff and leadership have been in discernment about the future of the church and specifically about the East Side community, which we launched last year and which I’ve been pastoring since its inception.
As we’ve been praying over the last few months, we’ve sensed that God is calling Matthew Watson to take over the leadership of the East Side community from me. As you may already know Matthew and his family (wife Lisa and kids Nathan, Elias, and Annelies) moved to DC from Memphis last summer to be our new church planting pastor.
September 7 is the date when my role as East Side pastor will officially come to an end and Matthew’s tenure will begin, and during our service that Sunday we’ll have a special time of prayer and commissioning for Matthew and his family. (If you’re in or around the DC area, you’re welcome to come! 5pm at Miner Elementary School.)
Having had the opportunity to work with Matthew over this last year, and to get to know Lisa and the kids as well, let me just say: I’m so excited to see how God will work in and with and through the Watsons to help The District Church and the East Side parish mature in Christ and in love. God has already used them to grow our community and I have no doubt he’ll continue to do so.
As for me, this frees me up to step into a slightly different role but one which, I think, fits my gifts and passions a little better — I’ll be serving in a church-wide pastoral role focusing on teaching and spiritual formation. We’re still finalizing the exact details, but again, I’m excited for what God is going to bring in this new chapter of The District Church’s life.
There’s more news to come, but I’ll leave it there for now! Please be praying for me and for the Watsons and for the church as we turn another fun page.
EAST SIDE’S FIRST BIRTHDAY (yeah, it’s already been a year!). Thank you for your prayer and your support as the first District Church plant has reached this milestone — and we’re still here! It’s a tremendous testament to the grace of God at work, cultivating relationships, and we celebrated with a cookout in a couple East Siders’ back yard!
BAPTISMS. Five people got baptized on Sunday, including A., a teenager who’d walked into one of our first East Side services and stayed, helping out where she could and joining us for post-service dinners. Two weeks ago, I was able to pray with her to accept Jesus as her Savior, and on Sunday I was able to baptize her. It was an amazing experience and I may (or may not) have gotten a little choked up. Again, so grateful for the grace of God powerfully and evidently at work.
Please be praying for all of those who were baptized and for all of us here at The District Church, that we would continue to seek after God with everything we’ve got and to love our neighbors.
Well, The District Church East Side has launched! Thankfully, almost everything went well on Sunday afternoon, and the things that didn’t were manageable — or we just coped with them! Also, we had almost 100 people (including a dozen kids) show up, which was tremendously encouraging and hopefully a sign of things to come!
[Click the pic for a few more photos from Sunday.]