The Church Is Not the Pastor

It seems to me that far too often people associate a church with who its pastor is. There are those who leave a church when a beloved pastor departs or when the current pastor doesn’t preach or teach or do X as they would like. And, there are those who join a church because they really love the pastor’s sermons or are relieved and return when a pastor with whom they strongly disagreed finally departs. And, of course, there are pastors who think, talk, and act as though it really is all about them (please, please, PLEASE, tell me if I ever get like that!).

One of the powerful reminders I experienced being away from the church building and activities for over a week while dealing with COVID is that a church is WAY more than its pastor. Certainly a pastor serves a particular role, even an important one, but there is so much more to a congregation than that one personality and the gifts they bring to their faith community.

I am so appreciative of and inspired by you all for continuing to be church together while I needed to step away to keep you safe, to care for my family, and to recover myself. It is a blessing to any pastor to serve a congregation that knows they are responsible for living their faith, for building relationships with one another, for reaching out to and serving their wider community. As I Zoomed in from afar, skimmed my email thread, and received a text message here and there, I witnessed the ministry of the church happening among you, and for that I gave and continue to give thanks. (And, that doesn’t even touch on the ways you all reached out to offer care and support to me while I was sick!)

I am reminded of the opening line of a simple song first introduced to me by our President Rebecca Keith last June as we gathered in congregational meeting: “I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together.”

Indeed we are, friends, and for that I am utterly grateful!


Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai, Senior Minister

(pronouns: she/her/hers)


Cell: 812-727-4414