I love being the pastor at Pioneer Congregational UCC. I had to be here before I would know that. It is not something that anyone could put down on paper. It had to be experienced.

When a congregation searches for a minister, the congregation puts together a profile. It can be full of anecdotes and statistics. However, it can’t really reveal what the character of the congregation is. That comes only when we interact with each other in person.

Reading about Pioneer in the profile was enough to attract me to it. It had a Montessori School in its building. It was where Pacific School of Religion offered seminary level courses in the Sacramento area. The offerings-per-membership ratio was outstanding. Sacramento was the most diverse city in the nation.

Later I found out that the Montessori School left because it had too many students and PSR left because it had too few. The offerings-per-membership ratio was an illusion caused by an accounting system that forced every kind of income, even rent, to be included in offerings. The racial diversity of the city was not reflected in the membership of the church. But by then I had met the members of the search committee and none of it really mattered.

Meeting a group of new people, especially when future employment is on the line, is not easy for me. However, when I met with Betsy, Fritz, Lucile, Karen, Bruce, Michael and Kevin, I felt at ease from the start. There was a spirit of love permeating the group that was easy to sense. There was more laughter being shared than tough interview questions being posed.

When I walked the labyrinth that weekend, I knew my life was coming together here. “All will be well, just wait” was the message I felt in my spirit when I was through. It was the affirmation that the connection I felt with the people of Pioneer was real and any difficulties were going to be resolved.

What I have discovered (and I hope you have too) is that Pioneer is not just a lovely place. It is a place where love is real and is expressed in the relationships of the people.

Pastor Phil