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DOWNEY - In about a week I will be moving to San Clemente. Before I go, I want to say how very much I have enjoyed being a part of the community that is Downey.
The congregation I have served here has done amazing work and redirected its mission and ministry so that they now reflect the community that Downey is today. They are risk-taking folks dedicated to making a difference in Downey and it was my privilege to work with them and serve them for the last nine plus years.
The Downey Interfaith Fellowship has been a highlight of my time in Downey. With Father Mark Warnstedt of Our Lady of Perpetual Help as a partner in leading, the group has done an excellent job of rising above differences and focusing on mutual care and love for this city. I have learned so much from these clergy and our work together.
I have been privileged to be a part of Gangs Out of Downey for the last seven years. The diverse members of G.O.O.D. from the police department, the school district, local business people, city and county employees, city council members, and concerned citizens are literally a model for the country in how agencies and citizens can cooperate for the benefit of the community. I have been especially impressed with their cooperative efforts on behalf of the school children of Downey. Downey is fortunate to have this group of people working to keep Downey a city of distinction.
I have been so encouraged by the partnership of people in the community. David and Rosa Llamas of Mambo Grill have partnered with Downey First Presbyterian for the last seven years to help feed homeless people. Southern California Drug and Rehab staff assigned to the facilities in Downey have been great neighbors in working to reunite and strengthen families. Mia Vasquez and Saywell Florists have done more than provide flowers to beautify our sanctuary. They have shown care for our ministry by the way they have serviced our needs. Joe Lumsdaine of Tredway, Lumsdaine, and Doyle LLP has been an incredible legal resource and a compassionate partner in ministry-a very rare combination.
The Downey Patriot has also been a great partner in working in and for the community. Their willingness to publish information related to the programs of the area churches is a significant contribution to the general well being of the community as it provides publicity for desperately needed positive activities and programs for our city.
As I have walked in the mornings I have loved encountering people I have come to know from all walks of life. Some of them interested enough in my well-being to check on me when they have not seen me walking for awhile! And, whether they know it or not, the men that gather down at 3rd Street Coffee every Friday morning (maybe every morning, I just saw them on Fridays!) and have regularly given this pastor a hard time have provided an uncommon sense of belonging for me. I will miss them.
I will miss Downey-the city and the people. I hope and pray for continued strength for its leaders and citizens in keeping it a city that welcomes newcomers, values its long time citizens, and cooperates across all sorts of lines that could divide in order to make Downey a city of great promise.
Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Downey
June 2003 - October 2012
Published: November 1, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 29