First United Methodist Church Tucson

Connecting with ALL people and growing with Jesus Christ 

                 In May of 2013 I walked onto the campus of First United Methodist Church of Tucson for the first time; and I remember thinking, β€œI had no idea there was a church here.”  Over the next year I heard your stories about your fears of closing, loosing beloved pastors, feeling abandoned by so many, enduring too much change too fast.  Then the story began to change. We began talking about the students who were using our facility. We began opening our doors to the community, working to restore this old church; and we, like a garden tenderly loved back to health through  patient waiting, tilling, planting, and pruning,   began to sprout with new life.  I remember in 2014 bemoaning, to another pastor, the fact that our growth and change was so slow it was almost  imperceptible. The pastor said, β€œIt takes a church decades to wake up to its reality, it will take it decades to grow again.”  This is the patient work of ministry: taking our time, listening, tilling, planting, pruning and knowing that God will help the garden of our community flourish.

First Church is a unique community: our place in the midst of a transient setting with students and snow birds coming and going will mean that we are a way station of hospitality, a refuge on the journey of life, a place of  transitions.  It means we are the heart renewal and rest center for a people on the move and in the middle of so much life.  We are a people of connection and discovery, of grounding, nurturing, and ultimately of sending. That is the gift God has given us as a church. We are              a place that knows how to love and let go. 

Our work, the hard and heart-breaking work of saying good bye to snowbirds every spring, and students every summer is work that Jesus and his disciples knew well.  It is an ancient pattern of Christian life.  For the work of the church was always to meet people in the midst of transition, anchor them to life in God through Christ, and then send them out to do the same  for others.

My final prayer for First Church is that you remain courageous in the center of this calling.  Meetings and partings are always hard; but they are also the stuff of faith, knowing that God will place us with the people we need to learn from for the journey we are on in that moment, and that eventually God will call us to change again.  It takes courage to be the church, to live as a people who welcome all and are also willing to bless all as they leave; and First Church has demonstrated this courage time and again.

But perhaps our story now could be one of God calling us into the next courageous chapter of being a church, rather than the stories of loss and brokenness of 2013.  First Church you are a courageous people. You have taught me how to love and how to let go. Now let us, courageous church, take our next steps in our own story of renewal and redemption, knowing that God is with us, every step of the way no matter where the journey takes us next.

Thank you for letting me serve you as pastor.  Thank you for walking with me on this journey, and now let us step together into our courageous calling, to enter the unknown with the certainty that God will use us each to change the world.  Amen.

Rev. Beth Rambikur

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