In addition to typical July stuff—heat, humidity, vacation, guest musicians—this July also brings OPC’s new associate pastor! I hope you were present to hear our Contract Associate Search Committee (Pam Epps, Pam Giles, Mike Kochel, chairperson David Schutten, and Ethel Steverson) joyfully announce their enthusiasm for the Rev. Heather Chase.

Heather describes herself as a pastor who “enjoys working in the church on vision and goals for healthy church systems. She has a heart for social justice and education, especially with children. Her other passion is spiritual practices. She is a trained spiritual director.”

Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Heather is a graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary and has spent the past decade serving at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Her time there has been rich—please pray for that congregation as they bid her farewell—but Heather wants to be able to administer the sacraments, lead creative worship, and have a broad array of responsibilities. Since she lives in the East Lake neighborhood, she is also looking forward to walking or biking to work!

I am thrilled Heather will be joining the life and work of Oakhurst Presbyterian. She is one of the rare pastors who has extensive experience serving a multi-racial, justice-driven, outreach-oriented church; she has excellent credentials in Christian Ed that will support our faith-formation program for children, youth, and adults; she has a master’s degree in preaching; she’s eager to get to know all of you through pastoral care and fellowship activities; and she’s keen to find here a church home for her interracial family. She is also Caucasian.

That means that for the next year or so, Oakhurst will have two white female pastors. The search committee, the Session and I are all aware that this temporary arrangement does not represent the diversity of our congregation. The committee was concerned about this, but Heather’s insights and sensitivity regarding multi-culturalism and her awareness of issues related to power and oppression eased their anxiety. And I am confident she’ll help facilitate important conversations that we will engage in this fall.

In its history, Oakhurst has had a pair of white pastors before, and has had a pair of male pastors before. And never has God’s work been impeded here. Please know that it has never been more important that we all commit more deeply than ever to the prayer, dialogue, intentionality and hospitality that nurture the diversity we cherish here. I know I can count on you to welcome Heather for all that she offers our faith community as we continue working
together in this time of transition.

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