by | Oct 18, 2021

They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

Isaiah 65:21-22

When COVID was raging, I would think about what happens when the crisis subsides. One thing I expected was some leadership transitions. This often happens after a crisis. Pastors will stay focused on the crisis at hand, but once things get a little calmer, the pastor realizes how burned out they are, and may decide to leave. Or a pastor who was planning to retire will delay their retirement, but then retire when it seems safe to do so. With COVID, a third phenomenon has been observed: between the time spent at home and the reality of mortality becoming so present in our minds, many people have started to rethink the way they are spending their lives, and they are making changes.

In some of our churches, we have said good-bye to members who have chosen to move out of state. And we will be entering a season of transitions, as at least five churches will see their pastors retire in the next few months, and a few of our younger pastors are moving forward in their ministries, taking added responsibilities in new contexts. I’m not going to name them right now, because so many pastors have told me of their plans that I’m not even sure which changes are public yet. But I do ask that you pray for the churches in transition, and if your church is experiencing this change, don’t hesitate to touch base with your session, and if they have questions, they can always reach COM Moderator Cyndie Crowell or myself.

On our Presbytery staff, we are experiencing change as well. Ally Lee has left Knox and officially started as Organizing Teaching Pastor with Interwoven. I have heard great things about the team that Harlan Redmond and Ally make together, and they are meeting with their launch team. On the other hand, our other Organizing Pastor, Sam Bang, has not seen the progress he had hoped for, so he will be scaling back his efforts with his new worshiping community. He still wants to nurture a community, but he will do it more slowly. He does not want to use additional Presbytery or Synod resources until he is farther along with a new community. Sam has been such a great help to the Presbytery that I’m hoping he may find another way to serve in our San Gabriel Presbytery family.

Lauren Evans is waiting for the green light to begin gaining the needed hours of counseling, so that she can become a licensed therapist. There is great demand for counselors right now, and Lauren will offer great insight as well as humor in her emerging practice. But COVID has caused delays in handling the paperwork so she can begin counseling again. Prayers for her as she gets ready for the next chapter in her ministry.

Kristi Van Nostran has finished her MDiv at Fuller, and completed her CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) internship. In a way, her work with asylum seekers at Adelanto Detention Center has been completed as well, because COVID caused Adelanto to greatly reduce the number of people held there; at present it looks like less than 100 people are still detained at Adelanto, and our hope is that no more will be sent there.

As Kristi has considered the changing and uncertain environment in the area of immigration, and as the crisis of the 100 people she helped to transition out of Adelanto has subsided, Kristi has discerned that this is a good time for her to shift gears. She wrote to the Justice, Peacemaking and Mission Committee:

With deep gratitude for all that we have accomplished together and the accompaniment we have provided with immigrant siblings in our communities, I write to share that I will be transitioning out of the role of Immigrant Accompaniment Organizer at the end of October. . . .

In November, I will begin a new role with Movement Mortgage as a Community Outreach Officer with their La Comunidad initiative to support Hispanic homebuyers. I am excited to step into this new chapter of my professional career after nearly 20 years working in non-profit and ecclesial settings. I very much view this as a new and different ministry opportunity serving the Hispanic/Latinx community in Southern California and look forward to the many blessings this new role has to offer.

While I will miss Kristi’s phenomenal work and her passion for bringing the love and justice of Christ to people leaving the danger of their home countries, I look forward to seeing what she will do in this different type of ministry. There has been much discussion recently about the way that home ownership is a major factor in building generational wealth; it seems that along with education, the opportunity to own property can provide stability for generations in a family. I know that my father was always grateful for a certain realtor, Willie C. Carr, for maintaining relationships with Japanese-Americans who were away from home during World War II due to incarceration or military service. After the war, Mr. Carr welcomed the Japanese back home to Pasadena, and he also broke down barriers of discrimination to help people of color buy houses in neighborhoods that had excluded them. He and Kristi demonstrate how God’s will for just wages and housing can be better implemented through people in the business world, who bring the light of their faith into their work.

Not only do I have high hopes for the ways Kristi will be impacting families through La Comunidad, she isn’t through with us in any case! She is still under care of our CPM and a member of Claremont Presbyterian Church, and the work she has done and the guidance she is giving us as we re-vision the Immigrant Accompaniment Ministry in these very changed times has made a permanent mark on many of us. We are much more knowledgeable and experienced in walking with our migrant neighbors, thanks to Kristi.

Kristi will meet with some of us as we discern the best use of funds from our churches and friends, the Synod, and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. We continue to be committed to this work, however it evolves, and we already have some ideas on how to build on what we’ve done, and to address the greatest need, as God guides us.

In the meantime, please join me in thanking Kristi, and giving praise to God for her, and please ask for God’s blessing on her and her future clients. As we enter into this season of transition, we are thankful for the ways we’ve been able to walk with so many gifted and faithful leaders, as we come alongside churches and ministries as they seek new leadership.


With thanksgiving and peace,