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“There are days that you just know were Divinely ordained to usher in a new era in your life and ministry. Today was such a day.” My Facebook status for Saturday, November 2nd, begins with those words. I was referring to one of the most glorious occasions I have celebrated in a very long time - my Installation as the third Senior Pastor of Imani Metropolitan Community Church.
The road to get to that point was not without its bumps, but as is always the case with Divinely ordained events, the almost-tangible sense of the “rightness” of what was happening - expressed repeatedly and shared (I believe) by everyone in the room - made everything it took to get there worth it.
It feels like such a “full circle” moment in so many ways. The church in which I was raised - where my father was the pastor - is called Faith Tabernacle. And we who went there most often referred to our church simply as “Faith.” It was the only church I had ever joined until my thirties, when after a long period of semi-estrangement from any and all churches, I heard about Imani. I heard that a new MCC was opening in Durham. I was there the second Sunday that they met and joined Imani soon after that. It was not lost on me, back then, that Imani is the Swahili word for “faith,” so in a very real sense, God had led me back home.
Well, stuff happens, and sometimes there are reasons that aren’t obvious at the time. It is abundantly obvious to me, now, that I was not meant to stay at Imani through all of the years since then. I was meant to leave; to be nurtured, formed, trained and tested in other environments, before returning to Imani as Interim Pastor last March.
St. John’s MCC was one of those environments. I spent over seven years there, growing into my renewed relationship with God and growing into understanding and acceptance of God’s will and purpose to call me to professional ministry. Under the pastorate of Rev. Brendan Boone, two of my colleagues, Rev. Terri Steed and Rev. Carlton Rutherford, and I all went through MCC’s process to prepare for ordination. We were all ordained, at St. John’s, within a span of five or six weeks. So it was another “full circle” aspect of the day to have the three of them as the clergy who laid hands on me and prayed for me at my Installation.
I am grateful to every person who participated in making Saturday such a beautiful day. I appreciate everyone who helped with the planning and preparation for the service and the reception which followed. God has blessed Imani with members and friends who possess incredible gifts, talents, and skills with which to bless our community and enrich our worship together. Those who participated in the service Saturday were at their very best! You can listen to the audio of the service here.
I was delighted to see old friends who came for the service. I do not take any friends for granted. In particular, as I get older I am more cognizant of the special blessing it is to have friends with whom I share substantial history.
Another highlight of the day, for me, was having my sons and my grandson there. Their presence, along with BJ’s, created a feeling of wholeness in me throughout the event. I felt like my whole heart was in that room - all of the sustaining loves of my life were represented - my God, my partner, my family, and my faith community.
I can hardly wait to see what God has in store for Imani! I know we are not together by accident. It was predestined. And that means there are purposes - Divine purposes - to be served by this Divine-human collaboration. My fervent prayer is that God will find us all faithful in our efforts to discern and do God’s will; so that we will accomplish all that we are meant to accomplish together in Jesus’ name, and for God’s glory.