MCC of San Francisco calls preacher to California; denomination elder praises Brown for empowering Texas church during her 2-year tenure
WICHITA FALLS The Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco’s congregation voted on Nov. 4 to appoint the Rev. Lea Brown, pastor of Wichita Falls MCC, to be its next senior pastor.
The vote was 122-to-3 to call Brown, said the new pastor in a telephone interview from San Francisco. That represented 98 percent of the 125 voting members, substantially more than was required by the church or by Brown for her to take the position.
“Their cutoff for the election to be successful was 85 percent, and mine was 90 percent,” Brown said. “So I was very happy with 98 percent. I’ll take those odds.”
Brown said that she would start her first day of work in San Francisco on March 3. She will be leaving Wichita Falls in December and visiting Boston for two weeks in January to begin a doctorate of ministry degree.
“That will leave me about a month to move across the country and to get settled before I start my job,” said Brown.
The date of Brown’s final sermon in Wichita Falls will be sometime in December. The date will be announced at services on Sunday, Nov. 11.
Brown, who spent 18 years in San Francisco before accepting the position in Wichita Falls two years ago, said she is excited about returning to her “chosen family” in San Francisco, but that she is sad to leave so many friends behind in Texas.
“What has made Wichita Falls for me is the people in the church,” Brown said. “I think that’s true anywhere. I love San Francisco, but if you don’t have good relationships it is pretty lonely.”
Brown said she expects to be working so hard that she will not have much time to enjoy the sights and activities of San Francisco.
“It will be good to be here,” said Brown, who is an Oklahoma native. “It’s like going home.”
Since Brown’s arrival in Wichita Falls, the Texas church’s congregation has purchased a building in the downtown area and the membership has grown by about 40 percent to 85 members.
Valarie Vela, a member of the Wichita Falls MCC board of directors, said Brown will be missed by the congregation.
“She’s just been a beam of light for everyone,” Vela said. “She has brought us all together and has been a great support person we can go to in a time of need. She’s been everything to the church and has made us a lot stronger as a congregation and a board.”
Vela said the congregation is sad to lose Brown but excited for her.
“We’re just going to continue in God’s path,” Vela said. “God has laid out a path for us, and we’re just going to continue with it. We know that God is calling her for that, and he probably has some great plans for her.”
The search for a new senior pastor for Wichita Falls MCC will begin immediately, Vela said.
“We’re going to do it slow so we find the right person,” Vela said. “We’re going to keep our eyes open and ears open and hearts open. We’re confident we will be brought the right person.”
The Rev. Elder Lillie Brock, of MCC’s Region 7, said she will appoint a temporary pastor to serve the Wichita Falls church and a pastor search committee would be formed. A new pastor would likely be found within about six to eight months, she said.
Brock said Brown has prepared the congregation to continue being “the little church that could.”
Brown has empowered the congregation, she said.
“The testament to the good job she has done there is that the church has a lot of momentum, and they will continue to keep it,” Brock said. “They have really shown us what a community of faith in a small conservative Texas town can do to reach out to GLBT people.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 9, 2007