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Letter from the Senior Pastor

By Dan Baumgartner on
Dan Baumgartner
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Apr 05 in Musings
April 5, 2019
Dear Hollywood Pres community-
It is with surprise, sadness and excitement that I write you this letter. There is no easy way to approach it: after 8 ½ years as the senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, my time here is coming to a close. Anne and I will eventually be moving to Santa Rosa, CA and I will serve as the pastor of The Cove (Covenant Fellowship Presbyterian Church), pending their congregational vote at the end of this month. I will finish my service at Hollywood on Sunday May 19th.
For some time now, Anne and I have felt that there would be another chapter in our ministry story. We weren’t searching, just listening and wondering. Our life in ministry has been a long series of who would have thought?! situations, including being called here to Hollywood in 2010. This next opportunity fits that pattern.                        
Anne and I prayed over these last weeks:  Lord, if this is from you, make it very clear, to both of us. The position at The Cove was offered to us ten days ago. On Friday, March 29th, we finished praying, listening and taking counsel­ and both of us were convinced that the answer was “Yes.”  
In the truest sense of the word, this feels like a call. The church and city of Santa Rosa could not be more different from Hollywood Pres and Los Angeles. The Cove was a church plant of First Presbyterian of Santa Rosa roughly 15 years ago. They have changed locations several times and now have their own building. They are a much smaller community and I will be only the second pastor in their short history.
Please know that our decision is in no way a statement about life at Hollywood Presbyterian. The diversity and deep faith of this congregation is wonderful. There is a strong and growing group of young people. The staff and elder leadership is stronger now than I’ve ever known it. We’ve taken significant strides in living into our identity as an urban, intergenerational and unified community. Good things are happening with learning, growing and significant outreach. 
While Anne and I are excited about this next chapter, we’re also sad to leave.  You have been our family and helped us transition to life as empty-nesters in a new city.  We have built deep friendships here that I know will last.
Is this ideal timing? Of course not. It never is. There are many decisions ahead around FPCH property, facilities, finances and mission focus. I have great confidence that Hollywood’s leadership and congregation will lean into the Lord for clarity.
Session and the Personnel Team will be meeting to talk, pray and discern over next steps. There will be a transition team formed through Session to consider interim leadership models. Input will be gathered from staff and congregation. Eventually the congregation will elect a Pastor Nominating Committee to search for the next senior pastor. In the meantime, I fully expect Hollywood Pres to continue enthusiastically following Jesus, loving each other and reaching out beyond the church walls.  
As I mentioned above, I will be here through Sunday, May 19th. There will be an official congregational vote to provide closure, most likely on that day. I start in Santa Rosa on August 1st, which leaves Anne and I time for some vacation, housing decisions and a move. We treasure our remaining time with you and would love your prayers for all the transitions.
In Jesus,

Dan Baumgartner
Senior Pastor
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