We welcome our Provisional Interim Pastor, Rev. Dr. Pat Langlois to our community this week. She will help guide us over the next year as we enter into a time of transition. She is a perfect fit for us as she brings over twenty five years of experience in the ministry, but also a passion for God’s greatest gift: the Earth, as well as justice and compassion for all Creation. Her message to us below paints a picture of what she will bring to us. Join us this Sunday at 10:30 AM to meet her and worship together. Potluck to follow!
A message from Rev. Pat~
“If you love the Lord, saints, say Amen!” These words were excitedly (and loudly) spoken by a preacher with a Southern drawl waving a white handkerchief from the pulpit in a Metropolitan Community Church in Stockton, California. I sat two-thirds of the way back in the sanctuary expecting to hear a calm, measured sermon from our guest preacher that night, but instead I was initially shocked and then sat up in my pew wondering, “What the heck…is this guy for real?” You see, this young twenty-something (me) had never heard anyone preach with so much passion before. Raised Catholic, I had only been a part of MCC for a year or so before our pastor, Rev. Virgil F. Scott, had invited Rev. Dr. Troy D. Perry to come to preach at our tiny congregation. My shock and skepticism soon melted away into truly sensing that this guy was for real. His love and joy for God poured forth from him in abundance.
Fast forward about ten years and I found myself in another MCC. By then I was a newly ordained clergy and had become a volunteer clergy and member at the metaphysical MCC San Jose under the leadership of Rev. Denis Moore. There was a woman, Ms. Janet Childs, a long time member of that church who always smiled and always seemed happy. She seemed to glide through the congregation. She carried herself with a calm, almost meditative spirit. I watched her and watched her and thought, “What the heck…is she for real?” I thought she was putting on a new-agey act. Soon I found out that she worked in hospice and had done so for quite some time. She was definitely for real, in fact more genuine than most anyone I had met (or have met since). Her sense of peace and profound joy flowed forth from her in abundance, even though she had experienced more death than anyone could imagine, you see, she had seen God in those moments of grief.
These two individuals had profound influences on my life and in my spirit, simply by living the joy they received from their walks with God. I learned just from their constant witness that indeed the “Joy of the Lord is their strength.” I have since found that same joy in my heart and in my life, especially in the midst of the struggles. Many have asked me lately, “So how’s it going?” and I reply, “Incredible….in fact my cheeks hurt because I can’t stop smiling!” The joy of God can’t be contained in me right now, as I am humbled and honored to be able to follow in Rev. Bob’s journey with you, MCC United Church of Christ in the Valley, as your Provisional Interim Pastor.
The words from Esther, “For such a time as this!” resonate deeply within me. My journey has taken me from my Catholic roots in San Jose, California to a little MCC in Stockton when I was 19. From there I began my student clergy time with Rev. Jean Hart in Santa Cruz, California, then to Concord, California with Rev. Larry Whitsell. After ordination I went to San Jose and then to MCC San Francisco as an assistant pastor with Rev. Elder Jim Mitulski. While there I received my first call to senior pastor in Albuquerque, New Mexico with a tiny church that so reminds me of MCCUCCV. In the 1990’s, Emmanuel MCC identified themselves as an intentional interfaith church (Christian and…) who lived out their motto to be the “Hands and feet of Christ in the world.” They proclaimed to their community to “Come as you are” and many did and together we moved mountains for seven years. In 2003, I moved to Los Angeles and joined MCCLA/Founders MCC for twelve years as Minister of Congregational Life, responsible for volunteers and ministry. We had upwards of 140 volunteers and 40 programs and ministries…a true joy and blessing to be able to serve God in such a way. The last two and a half years, I have been a member and consultant with Woodland Hills Community Church (a United Church of Christ) under the leadership of Pastor Craig Peterson. This intergenerational congregation from toddlers to those in their nineties broke so many stereotypes I found that I had held towards “mainline” churches. The passion in all the generations to live God’s love and joy into the world was eye opening and inspiring.
In my ministry of over 25 years, I have lobbied state legislators, sat on state and city commissions and task forces, chaired interfaith groups, organized state wide events, served thousands of meals to those in need, been a part of distributing as many toys and school items to children. I have taught about wholeness in our spirituality and sexuality; and I have taught countless workshops on Going Green with God (I love uncovering and unpacking what has been hidden from so many of us in our Christian faith). I have sat with individuals as they faced their mortality or questioned their faith. I have wiped tears away and I have celebrated new life. I have been honored to bless lives as they begin and honor those who have passed. In it all, I love just being with others, allowing God to be present.
My own journey has taken me to a lot of places geographically, but even more so spiritually. My doctoral studies with Matthew Fox at the University of Creation Spirituality opened a deeper world and understanding to some of the things I knew but had not yet articulated. My studies with Matthew and other incredible spiritual teachers brought me deeply into the intersection of spirituality and science; into the mystics and the prophets; into the honoring of the indigenous wisdom from around the globe; and immersed me in the awe and wonder of my chosen faith, Christianity. If one were to describe me spiritually, it would be a Mystic, Earth-Centered Christian. (My dissertation is “Queer Blessings: The Beatitudes as a Healing Journey for the LGBTQI community…and, yes, I’m certain you will hear me talk about that in the future!) I have danced with the Great Mother in Drum Circles, prayed with Sophia in Taize, celebrated exuberantly with Jesus in Sunday worships, and felt at peace sitting by the Ocean watching the sunset in silence. In all of these settings, I have found deep peace, Divine presence and joy.
I bring all of me and my experiences to my new position with you. I look forward to discovering together who we have been, who we are, and who we are becoming in the Presence of God. With the board’s and Bob’s blessing, I have been working on a number of behind the scenes things with a handful of folks from here over the last few weeks. I have met with some of you over coffee or a meal because I have wanted to get to know you and your stories and your joys (btw, my goal is to meet with all of you, so if I don’t get to you first, please feel free to contact me at the office or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ). In this brief time, I have observed a loving and caring group of people of faith. You hold the love of God in your hearts and have shared it with the community. You honor our Earth and Creation through intentional steps to become “green.” You are a witness of the inclusivity of God’s dominion, and I am quite impressed. A phrase has run through my heart that I believe describes you…A Caring Community of Christ: Living Compassion & Loving Creation. You will hear me say this often, I am certain, because it never hurts to be reminded of who we are and what we do.
So…for such a time as this, I am here. Together I look forward to “Keeping the Main thing the Main thing” (read staying focused on God in all we do). I look forward to living our compassion in countless ways in our community. I look forward to always being in awe and wonder at the gifts we are given and how we can share them with others.
I thank you from the deepest depths of my being for giving me the opportunity to walk with you, to guide you wherever the road takes us.
Looking forward to worshipping together this Sunday at 10:30 AM…invite a friend, bring a dish to share for the potluck, and be ready to “get your praise on!”
Blessings to all, Pastor Pat