For the past nine years, I have served you faithfully to reflect the teachings of Jesus Christ and uphold the values of FPC as expressed in the FPC’s Vision and Mission Statement. In my primary call to teach, preach, and care for the congregation, I have incorporated “joy, and imagination” into our worship services, specifically through designing and implementing Creative Worship services. I have created opportunities to nurture our lives of faith in Christ by curating strong Christian Formation programs. In addition to my office door, I have opened my home and family to extend hospitality to members. I have provided many pastoral visits and counseling sessions to help members identify their brokenness, so that they can move towards reconciliation.
In return, you have opened yourselves, welcomed my preaching, teaching, and pastoral counseling. When I brought up to the surface the difficult issues of racism, heterosexism, and other -isms in our lives, you rose up to the challenge and stayed in those uncomfortable spaces to expand and integrate faith into everyday issues. You have been open and receptive in those uncomfortable spaces. You braved and explored how we might move forward to embrace and practice the expansiveness of God’s love.
However, bringing up these issues to the surface also brought scrutiny and criticism my way. While a certain level of constructive criticism and disagreement is expected in ministry, I feel that the level and intensity of these criticisms has increased to an unhealthy level. I also feel that some comments and responses have crossed the boundary of appropriate criticism into the area of abusive attacks. Perhaps, the collective stress we faced during the past two years has contributed to the way we deal with disagreements over difficult topics.
Regardless, I have underestimated the cumulative negative effect of those dissenters’ attacks over the years. They have caused harm to my spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being. I am drained of the energy necessary to serve this congregation with imagination and joy. Therefore, I have decided to resign from my position as Associate Pastor of Christian Formation, before I reach the level of not being able to embrace all people of our congregation with openness and love.
My last Sunday will be March 20, 2022, and I will preach. Immediately following the 11:15 am worship service, there will be a congregational meeting to officially dissolve my terms of call here at Fairfax Presbyterian Church, as required by the Presbytery.
I have truly enjoyed being your pastor here at FPC. You have been a great teacher to me. I have received much love, care, and support through all the ups and downs of our shared life together. I trust that the Holy Spirit will guide and lead our paths as we journey into the unknown, yet exciting, future.
In Grace and Peace,
Yena K. Hwang