Letter from Rev. John Weems

June 16, 2017

In January 2013, when I stood before the Calvary community as a candidate preaching my first sermon from 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, I said, “Calling a pastor is more than a call to a particular person. A call comes to us as a body. A call is an acknowledgment that we will listen to each other and above all listen for God.”

In the spirit of continually listening for God’s call over the past four years at Calvary, I have come to the conclusion that my path leads in a different direction. I will therefore be resigning as your pastor and head of staff and am working with Session to determine a mutually agreeable end date.

Long before entering full-time ordained ministry and in all subsequent years, I have felt a deep passion for connecting faith beyond Sundays and church walls. I plan to earn a living in the corporate world and devote time as a volunteer to create a faith and work ministry for people who do not affiliate with any church.

Before sharing more of the factors behind my decision, I want to stress how firmly I believe that the body of Christ at Calvary is poised to continue to grow in number and depth. Calvary’s Session and other gifted volunteer leaders will be working with Rev. Victor H. Floyd, Rev. Joann H. Lee and our extraordinarily talented staff to partner with Presbytery to minimize disruption to the many ministries thriving at Calvary.

Calvary is reflecting Christ’s light within the walls and beyond. We have partnered together to increase worship attendance, annual giving, and volunteerism to help break cycles of poverty. We have invested time and energy to stand with the marginalized and sought to live into the charge of Jesus to love neighbor as self. I am honored to have been part of numerous baptisms and weddings and to have been with you at memorials and through life’s challenges. You have prayed for and demonstrated Christian love for our family, through Colleen’s life-threatening virus before I started and several deaths in our family over the past year. We are grateful for your ministry to us.

You will remain under the care of one of the best church staffs in the land (Really!), and a team of gifted Elders, Deacons, and team volunteers. I love and admire Victor and Joann and our staff and pray that you will step up even more to support the ministry at Calvary.

So why would anyone leave a healthy church with a promising future? Christians can too easily say “I feel called” to avoid saying much. You have shared the blessings of your lives with me and deserve to know more. My rationale includes a combination of head and heart factors.

On the head side, I need to help pay for college for my sons without burdening them with massive debt as they are starting life. Some Calvary leaders have offered to help explore ways Calvary could provide more support for our family. While I am grateful for the sentiment, I will not accept additional funds in light of Calvary’s budget gap and the fact that I am already well compensated by church standards. Many of our staff and many of you are working hard to deal with the high costs of housing, healthcare, and education. I firmly believe that God provides manna for us in various forms. Though not quite as mysterious as bread from heaven, sometimes that manna comes in the form of a corporate job working with ethical and passionate people who are also seeking to be faithful.

Our hearts and souls are also prominent in this decision. Having invested more than 15 years in seminary and church service, Colleen and I do not base major decisions solely upon money. We have prayed and spoken with faith mentors, from my spiritual director to our parents and other loved ones who also seek to follow Jesus. Through all of this discernment we have gained confidence that this is the most faithful decision for our family, as bittersweet as it is to leave people we love.

I would be honored to speak with anyone who wishes to do so individually and will share some office hour times as well. I will pray for Calvary as you continue to seek to transform the church and the world to reflect more of Christ’s selfless agape love.

With Gratitude,

Rev. John Weems