Retiring Clergy - Class of 2015

The Rev. R. Lee Hayward – June 17, 2015

Ordination: 43 years ago: Stockton…. 25 years of local church and 15 years of extension ministry later, it’s my good fortune to have my 93 year-old Dad – one of those who modeled ministry growing up and who laid ordaining hands upon me...and my wife Linda who held and continues to hold my hand in so many life-saving ways – to be experiencing today’s movement toward my re-invention.  I'm so grateful to my daughter and son, Katharine and Tom and their families for being here today – once again they have given me joy and love and pride.  A great legacy!

While in school as intern or associate in early years, Art Gafke in Fresno, Roy Damonte and Don Fado in Burlingame, and John Sublett in Orinda provided examples of servant leadership and care.  I’ve also been guided by laity and staff in local churches served … and also those who taught me to speak their language in their workplace and ultimately taught me to become bi-lingual in business/faith language – Elham Assadi, Terri Kelly, Gail James, and Allen Flynt had faith to hire me to continue ministry in the corporate and government sectors... a different language in a different venue yet in many ways similar in intent and purpose my friend Mark Wendland for his encouragement and friendship…to Bruce Fenner, the UMC Endorsing Agent who affirmed my skills and invited me to use them, and to Bishop Grant Hagiya for inviting me to give back to the Church in new and meaningful ways. 

I’m not sure how transformational I always was in the local church - but I know I’ve been transformed - while coaching NASA’s Mission Control Room during Shuttle launch and reentry, to working with those responsible for the rescue of the Chilean miners, those protecting ships from pirates off the coast of Somalia, or supporting clergy in aligning their values and vision with action. 

Mark Twain once said, “I've had a lot of problems in my life.  Most of them did not happen.”   Also mostly true for me J!...Coaching many of you and other clergy in a number of Annual Conferences has confirmed for me - more so than when pastoring a local church - that what YOU do today is really tough!  Being church today, is really tough.  I’m grateful to Bishop Brown for reappointing me in the retired relationship to support you by continuing this work I’ve been engaged in during the past 15 years.

In closing let me say that Its taken a career, a family, and colleagues like you to figure out some basic things, most importantly, ‘It’s not about me!”  It's remembering that behavior trumps words.  It’s remembering when there’s seemingly little appreciation, encouragement, support or care extended to you for what you do today in your ministry, to remember the slogan under which I have worked these past 12 years...NASA’s slogan: “We have friends in high places!” 

The Rev. Kristie L. Olah - June 17, 2015

When I thought about what to say to all of you today, I knew that I wanted to pull out the words I shared with you 19 years ago.  At that time, I stood before you, requesting your support for my ordination as elder and for my ministry ahead.

Happily for me, I knew right where to find the notes from that time!

Back in 1996, I introduced you to Oliver Neal, a member of the Asbury United Methodist Church in Livermore.  Oliver has had a profound effect on my call.  Oliver is a PK twice over – both his father and mother were United Methodist ministers – and his mother Lois was the first Native American woman District Superintendent in the UMC. 

But it was Oliver’s grandmother who taught him who he was and what he was.  Oliver told me the story of standing in front of a mirror.  His grandmother asked him what he saw, and Oliver replied, in his words, not my words, “An Indian and a Christian.”  His grandmother told him that it was his challenge and his task to hold all that together – to be all of who he was, because that is how God saw him. 

That word spoke to my heart.  As I stood before you those years ago, I said, “My call, the tug on my spirit from God’s Spirit, the burning fire within me, the call that centers my ministry, is to bring all persons in front of their own mirrors.”  To know and celebrate the fullness of who they are as God sees them.  To integrate their stories with God’s story.

That call is still upon me, shaping how I have lived my ministry in the local churches I served and now as a district superintendent.  To encourage and support each of us along our journeys of living as God sees us, and bringing all of who we are into the community of faith that we are together. 

Bishop, those many years ago, I said, “My vision is to build together a church of God’s people that celebrates every gift, every person, every expression of God’s love, …with justice for all people, no exceptions.”  But, we have a long way to go… to build a church that fully embraces and calls each of us into the fullness of who we are as a church – as God sees us.  In all ethnicities, all cultures, all ages, all genders…. all……all.

And so my work is not done.  After retirement, I hope to work with churches and pastors and leaders on the things close to my heart as we build this Kindom-Kingdom church together   - in the areas of discipleship and leadership development. 

I thank my husband Bob who has always supported me through my call and my ministry. I thank you, Bishop Brown, for the privilege of serving on your Cabinet team.   I thank all of you, colleagues.   Your faith and passion have inspired and challenged me.  What a blessing it has been to serve with you.  Thanks be to God!