The House of David

By the time I retire in July of 2024, I will have served Oak Harbor FUMC for eight years. Another David (Johnston) which preceded me served for five years, and the David (Lura) before him for a whopping twenty-three years. Absent one amazing interim pastor, “Vonna Thomas,” the last 36 years of OHFUMC has been (now aptly dubbed) “The House of David!” One of the running jokes right now is that the next pastor needs to be named…”David!”

Our SPPR Team will soon be sharing with our District Superintendent (Rev. Mark Galang), and with our church family, the results of our Congregational survey. We are also providing a more narrative description of our congregation’s style, strategy, and story known as our “Church Profile.” These profiles are used to help the Bishop and the Cabinet to identify appropriate and good fits/matches for each appointed pastor and receiving church in our Pacific Northwest Annual Conference.

I recently met with District Superintendent Mark Galang for my annual check-in with him and sharing about the state of our church. At the end of our conversation, he asked me if I might begin a conversation with my church about the possibility, timeliness and potential openness to what the United Methodist church calls “Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural” appointments in ministry. I was excited to hear this query, because I know (in part) it means the ethnic minorities I have asked to preach for me in my tenure (Rev. Mark Galang, Rev. David Valera, Pastor Sam Giles) have had wonderful experiences with our congregation. Are we ready for “Open Itineracy?”

The United Methodist Book of Discipline states, “Open itinerancy means appointments are made without regard to race, ethnic origin, gender, color, disability, marital status, or age, except for the provisions of mandatory retirement” (¶ 425 Book of Discipline of the UMC). Although we live in a predominantly white community (68%), there is a rich, untapped resource of ethnic siblings (32%) who offer creative and new expressions of the Kingdom of God. The Bible describes this gathering of diverse peoples a “family” that Jesus has ransomed (purchased) for God “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9 ESV).

There are multiple hues and stories in the American tapestry. Whidbey Island is increasingly reflecting that larger, national reality. Perhaps one day, there will be a pastor here whose name is not David, but Soon Park Kim (Korean), or Ethan Del Rosario (Filipino), or Isabella Martinez (Hispanic), or Jamal Jordan (African American). Any congregation that begins to look more like its broader, local community, has a better chance of being engaging and relevant to their larger society. Thriving and bearing fruit in Christian ministry is also about (to use a metaphor) cross pollenating the crops throughout the whole valley. Cross racial/cultural appointments help to empower congregations to do just that.

Our local Pacific Northwest Annual Conference of the UMC has been increasingly becoming a very diverse Conference with pastors and churches. Our church is clearly in its “sunset years” in terms of our current constituency. There will be a great remaking of this congregation in the next ten years and having the right pastor at the helm to guide and foster that transition will be critically important.

I hope you will join me in praying that God will send us the right pastor “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14 NIV). The church of tomorrow will belong to those who give this family its greatest hope today! Hope is not a strategy, it’s a promise (1 Peter 1:3-5)!

Believing God for our Future!

Pastor David

1 Comment

Susan Schopf - September 8th, 2023 at 12:47pm

May it be so, Lord, that our hearts and minds and doors at Oak Harbor First United Methodist Church are truly open to all. God’s grace and love is for all. Thanks be to God!





no categories


no tags