Melissa is Leavening! from Leaven Community/Salt & Light Lutheran to the Oregon Synod ELCA

Melissa is Leavening! from Leaven Community/Salt & Light Lutheran to the Oregon Synod ELCA

Sunday, September 29th, 10am - You are invited to come bless Melissa on her final Sunday as pastor for Salt & Light Lutheran (and for those in the wider Leaven Community who embrace her as “your pastor”).

Leaven Beloveds,
After thirteen years among this community, it is with profound gratitude, deep sadness and expectant, nervous joy that I share with you the news that I have accepted the call to join the Oregon Synod (this is church talk!) Bishop’s staff as the Bishop’s Associate for Vital Leadership and Sacramental Organizing. This means that September 29th will be my last Sunday as your pastor and the Co-Executive Director and Co-Organizer of Leaven Community.

In all honesty, these are some of the hardest words I’ve had to find in my life, and I am still finding them.  I expect to find more of them throughout the month as we are present to one another and share them with you in various ways -- writing, sermons, stories, conversations over coffee.
What I want you to know is that I have absolutely no “reason” to leave. I feel I am privileged to have THE BEST work among the most incredible human beings. We have planted seeds together that are growing, wild and abundant. All of this, all of you, are beyond my expectation. And, that’s how I know it is a true call.

“Yes” found me unexpectedly in the invitation to take what we have learned here together, among Leaven Community, including Salt & Light Lutheran Church, and share that on a greater scale -- to take the mission on the road, so to speak -- broader and deeper, across the state. I realized, we cannot hold what we have here to ourselves.  We are Leaven -- we must catalyze!  

I am also excited to see what this transition will mean for you all, as a community and an organization. A leader’s absence leaves room. And, emptiness is sacred space, pregnant space where life grows. You are a relational, leader-FULL community that does hard things all the time. Do what you know how to do so well -- turn to one another and the next one you meet. You have everything you need!

My transition marks a time of transition and discernment for Leaven Community and Salt & Light Lutheran Church. LaVeta Gilmore Jones, your co-Executive Director and Organizer, the Leaven Board, and Salt & Light’s Congregational Mission Leader Team will work with Oregon Synod staff in organizing what leadership configuration is needed to join LaVeta in shepherding a season of discernment around long-term community leadership.

A couple joys:

The Oregon Synod’s office is in Portland, so we are not moving. And, my husband, Matt Smith, and our kids, Jack and Brigid, will remain members of this community. You are their family!

And, Bishop Laurie has agreed that I should continue through my Synod capacity working with the Leaven Community Land and Housing Coalition as we grow and expand, as well as the Oregon Fellowship, the intern accompaniment project Leaven ignited this past year with our partner, Together Lab.  You are gestating movements vital to ministry, community and life in Oregon!

I know this is a lot of information and Labor Day weekend is not the best time to gather everyone, so you are invited to a Leaven Community Potluck and Conversation on Sunday, September 8th, Noon-1:30pm. We will have time to break bread together, share more about all of these transitions, be present to the emotions and stories rising up, as well as the questions. Remember, our questions will shape the discernment.

Finally, please mark your calendars for Sunday, September 29th, 10am. This will be my final Sunday as pastor for Salt & Light Lutheran (and for you in the wider Leaven Community who embrace me as “your pastor”) and I will need your blessings for the work ahead. I am your legacy and you are mine. I am so humbled and proud.

With Profound Love & Deepest Respect,

Pastor Melissa O'Keefe Reed

LaVeta Gilmore