El Segundo United Methodist Church

Pastor's Page

"Come to the Water"
Pastor Lee's Sermon Podcasts

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Dear Friends,

When I began attending seminary, I was blessed to have my father-in-law as a mentor.  Rev. Keith Carlile was an amazing man of faith, and over his long years of service as a pastor and a district superintendent, he gained much insight into the work of ministry.  I remember hearing him describe the relentless nature of pastoring a church in this way: “You begin the roll a boulder up a hill on Monday, it goes over the top on Sunday, and then you start all over again on Monday.”   

I have been rolling the boulder up the hill since 2003, nearly fifteen years now.  In all that time, I have not taken a vacation longer than two weeks.  While I am still glad and grateful for the opportunity to do this work, I feel the need for a time of rest and renewal.  Having seen two of my closest colleagues come back stronger and healthier after taking renewal leaves, I believe that following their lead will be beneficial to both myself and my ministry at El Segundo UMC. 

The United Methodist Book of Discipline allows clergy who have held full-time appointments for six years to take a spiritual and formational leave (or renewal leave, as it is commonly known) for up to six months while continuing to hold their appointment.  (This is not a sabbatical, which is a much longer and more complex time away.)  So as to minimize the effect on the church (and to quiet my over-active sense of duty), I have chosen to take a leave for two months, beginning on Monday, July 16, the week after our Vacation Bible School, and ending on Monday, September 17.

Several of you have asked what I plan to do during my leave.  When one of my colleagues asked me that question, I responded, jokingly, “I’d like a month to unclutter my house!” That led to the idea of a spiritual “uncluttering”—a time of clearing my mind as well as my house and opening the windows of my soul to make room for the movement of the Spirit.  To that end, I’m beginning my leave with a four-day retreat at Mt. Calvary Retreat Center, in Santa Barbara, a place of prayer and peace. 

Some of my time away will be spent in in prayer and reflection on my ministry at El Segundo UMC.  Our church is currently taking part in the Readiness 360+ process, and though I have actively participated in this process with our team, there has been little time to reflect on the material in the midst of day-to-day ministry.  I plan to do that and to review the material from the Callahan Seminar which I attended this spring.   I also hope to look ahead to the next couple of years.  In addition,, I plan to attend the Bishop’s Convocation, September 11-13 and the Readiness 360+ Cohort meeting on September 15.  A side benefit will be the opportunity to “practice” retirement, so that I have a better sense of when I’m ready to step down from active ministry.

And, yes, I’m also going to work on uncluttering my house—but, more importantly, I hope to rest and relax:  to walk, to watch birds, to garden, to write in my journal, to develop more regular sleep patterns, to just “be.”  Most of the time, I’ll be at home, but it’s quite likely that Don and I will be traveling back to Indiana to help prepare his mother’s house for sale, and I may also take a week to visit my sister in Montana. 

I hope and pray that this time of rest and renewal will help me to come back refreshed and better prepared to help our church move forward.

I will be on leave for nine Sundays.  I am grateful that our resident Lay Servant, Glafy Carr and Eric Iki, our Youth Director, will preach three of those Sundays as well.  The other Sundays will be covered by United Methodist pastors (one of whom is Pat Heaney’s brother.)  Each of them will bring his or her unique style, and I think you will enjoy hearing them. 

Several of my colleagues have agreed to be available for pastoral care, and I am also reaching out to the clergy at other churches in El Segundo so as to have someone to cover those folks who walk into the church office in search of a listening ear and a sympathetic heart.

I appreciate all of the support that I have received, especially from our District Superintendent, our SPRC and our Church Council.  Feel free to ask me questions and to share your concerns. 

I also encourage you to do two things.  First, I invite you to take some time this summer for rest, for play, for your own renewal.  Second, I invite you to join me in praying and reflecting on our church’s ministry and mission so that, together, we will enter into the fall with renewed energy and commitment.

In the meantime, I look forward to my leave and to our ninth year together in mission and ministry!  And I’ll see you in church July 1, 8, and 15!


Pastor Lee

Who is preaching when:

July 22 – Rev. Patricia Hedges

July 29 – Rev. Jennifer Gutierrez

August 5 – Rev. Mark Ulrickson

August 12 – Eric Iki

August 19 – Rev. Jerry Partney

August 26 – Glafy Carr

September 2 – Rev. Rachel Tabutol

September 9 – Rev. Ed McRae

September 15 – Eric Iki

Pastors on call for care:

Rev. Molly Vetter

Rev. Erika Gara

Rev Lynette Fuka

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