Dear St. Luke’s Members and Friends,
We, Amy Denney Zuniga, Rector, and Dee Sigismond, Senior Warden, are writing to let you know that after 7 ½ years of faithful and fulfilling ministry at St. Luke’s and in the community of Hollister, Rev. Amy has discerned and accepted a call at another congregation; her last day at St. Luke’s will be Sunday, July 31. In August she and her family will move to St. Helena, California, where she will become Rector of Grace Episcopal Church.
As your Rector, this has been a very difficult decision. However, it is the strength of the congregation at this time that has helped me to discern that God is calling me on. We have grown a lot together over the last seven years; weathered some challenges; rejoiced in many blessings. St. Luke’s leadership is strong and energized, the preschool is coming into its own, and the congregation is embracing its ministry within and beyond the walls of St. Luke’s. No longer is St. Luke’s “just” the “little gray church on the corner”—you are a force in this community, and an example for other congregations—you are making a difference, and that is being recognized by people from the mayor to local teachers and parents to national church leaders.
I have felt many emotions throughout this process—I feel excitement and joy at new opportunities and challenges, and at the same time I feel sadness over leaving a people and place I love. I love you very much; I will always love you. And I am more grateful to you than I can express for your love and care for me over the past eight years, and for the ways you have cared for my family. Truly, we have “grown up” together here—you have made me into the priest I am today. In my new call I will continue to live into the values that have been shaped in me through our work together—values of loving care, all-embracing welcome, and bridging difference in Christ’s name.
As Senior Warden, I am aware that as we begin this time of transition at St. Luke’s there will be many emotions that we will experience both individually and as a congregation. It is important that we understand that our feelings, whether they be sad, angry, excited, or anxious, are normal and we must allow ourselves the freedom to experience whatever they may be.
I want to assure everyone that the church leadership will work closely with the Diocese to make the transitions as seamless as possible. Although during the process of finding a new priest, things may feel unsettled for a while, we need to put our trust in God that whomever he has called to be our next priest will come at the right time. As difficult as it is, we need to realize that after July 31 Rev. Amy will no longer be our priest or pastor, and she should not be contacted for any pastoral matter after that date. We will have clergy available all through the transition to attend to pastoral emergencies, to pray with us and counsel us, and after 7/31 those requests should be directed to Dee Sigismond, Senior Warden, through the church office or on my cell until we have a long-term supply/interim priest in place.
With God’s love and guidance and with support from one another we will get through this and will be a stronger St. Luke’s family in the end. In the months ahead we will need time to grieve our loss, say goodbye and wish Reverend Amy, Vince and their children well as they move on to a new adventure. We then need to get ready for our new priest. With God’s help we will welcome our new priest with open hearts and be ready for exciting changes that will come with them. If God has a new call for Rev. Amy, God has a new call for St. Luke’s as well.
Please stay tuned over the coming months for special opportunities to spend time together as a community with Rev. Amy and family, to celebrate and say goodbye. This week, Rev. Amy will begin to hold drop-in office hours at Mars Hill Coffeehouse when you can stop by and talk—watch the bulletin & announcements email for days/times. We will have lots more information for you as we move into the search for our new priest beginning in late August—feel free to come to me as Senior Warden or any vestry member with questions at any time.
In the meantime, we ask that you please pray for this church community, for one another, and for Rev. Amy and her family as we all enter a time of transition, and know that many people within and beyond Hollister are praying for us! This prayer from our Book of Common Prayer (p. 831) is most appropriate:
Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to your never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come, knowing that you are doing for them better things than we can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May God’s peace be with you,
The Rev. Amy Denney Zuniga, Rector, Dr. Dee Sigismond, Senior Warden