Brown will spend week in California as candidate for senior pastor; North Texas church likely to begin search for new leader soon
WICHITA FALLS The Rev. Lea Brown, pastor of the Wichita Falls Metropolitan Community Church, is headed back for California’s famed “City on the Bay” at least for a week and probably for longer.
Brown, who was appointed pastor of the Wichita Falls church two years ago, will spend the week of Oct. 29 as a candidate for pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco. She will preach a sermon on Sunday, Nov. 4, and the congregation will vote on whether to call her immediately afterwards.
“It is not a done deal until the congregation votes,” said Brown during a telephone interview from the North Texas city where she now resides. “One hopes that if one gets this far chances are good, but I’m not counting those chicks until the eggs hatch.”
The San Francisco church’s officials announced on Oct. 8 Brown would be recommended as the next senior pastor of the church. Brown told her Wichita Falls congregation the news at Sunday services the day before.
Brown said in her announcement that she was concerned that the news might cause some members of the congregation “pain, anger or grief” because she had stayed in Wichita Falls such a short period of time.
“Part of the reason for announcing it is that I really wanted the church here to be with me in this whole journey for me to go back to San Francisco to candidate,” Brown said. “If San Francisco should say they don’t want me, I have no intentions of leaving here.”
Brown, an Oklahoma native who moved from San Francisco to Wichita Falls to accept her first pastorate, said in her announcement that the San Francisco position had been on her mind since she heard about the previous pastor resigning in September 2006. As she thought might be possible, the California church later asked her if she would be interested in applying for the position.
Brown submitted her application on Sept. 1.
Several members of the search committee told Brown at first she was at the bottom of the list because they wanted a candidate without previous ties to the church, but she rose to the top before the application process ended, she said.
“Because of Lea Brown’s past affiliation with our congregation, she was known to many of us at MCCSF,” said Rick Rosser, chair of MCCSF’s pastoral search committee. “However, over the last few months of our search process, we came to a more comprehensive appreciation of her personal and professional gifts, and how these would directly support the mission and goals of MCCSF.”
Brown, who lived in San Francisco for 18 years before moving to Texas, said she is excited about the possibility of joining old friends again but sad about leaving her new ones.
“I don’t think I have ever in my life been filled with such conflicting emotions,” Brown said. “This has never been about leaving here. This has been about following a calling to San Francisco.”
Brown said she is relieved that the Wichita Falls congregation has been so accepting of the situation, and that she is confident it will continue the growth it saw under her leadership.
“This congregation has worked really hard,” Brown said. “I’m just so proud of them because since I’ve made the announcement they haven’t backed off in the least. If anything, they’ve ramped up the activities.”
Brown said that if the California congregation selects her, it would be at least several weeks before she moved. A search for a new pastor for the Wichita Falls church would follow, she said.
Since Brown has been pastor of the Wichita Falls church, it has purchased a building in the downtown area and increased its membership from 50 to 80 members.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 26, 2007