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Clergy of color open eyes at Annual Meeting

Lisa Horst-Clark and Andrew Conley-Holcom open revival worship efore Annual Meeting.

Lisa Horst-Clark, pastor of First Congregational UCC in Bellevue, the host church for Annual Meeting, and Andy Conley-Holcom, pastor of Admiral UCC, collaborated with others to offer “an experiment with a Progressive Church Revival,” the Friday evening before the one-day business Annual Meeting on Saturday April 27 at the Bellevue church.

“You are a co-creator with worship, co-creating power and energy that reminds us all are in this together, gathered in the church for transformation with one who walks with us,” said Andrew.


Pastor says forgiveness is key for transformation

Opening her sermon, the Rev. Dr. Renee McCoy, who formerly served at Eastgate Congregational UCC in Bellevue, said her liturgical background is Catholic, so she was preaching from a manuscript, while other preachers—the Rev. Dr. Kelle Brown of Plymouth UCC in Seattle, the Rev. Bianca Davis-Lovelace, executive director of the Renton Ecumenical Ministry, and the Rev. Amy Roon at University Congregational UCC in Seattle—would likely preach extemporaneously.

Renee McCoy tells how cancer brought transformation in her life.

“Transformation is change at the core of existence in a world broken to what lives—shot to pieces by spiritual shrapnel,” Renee said, noting that Easter and resurrection are about transforming that world.

“The world was transformed because one man acted in unwavering trust and emerged from the grave, demonstrating God’s faithfulness.  The world was transformed because one man rose, one man left the tomb and the body of one man, Christ, is uplifted.  Peace, justice and comfort do not come without genuine unity,” Pastor Renee said.

“I’m African American, you can tell that. I’m also a lesbian and a woman.  I’m convinced, convicted created by the power of God,” she said.  “I find that it’s easier for us to tell of the goodness of God than it is for us to accept ourselves.”

Three years ago, she awoke in the hospital diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  At that point, she needed to receive God’s transforming power in herself.

“I’m more about bringing people to God than receiving all God extends into my life,” Pastor Renee said, telling how pancreatic cancer has been transforming because she realized God’s love for her.

“Though there was a toxic deadly thing growing in me, I was loved.  As I journey through cancer, it’s like God sent me to my room to think about how much I am loved and to facilitate my transformation in nine months of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation,” she said.  “I was a large woman all my life.  With cancer, my body changed physically.

“The first act of transformation was to forgive people who visited and reminded me of my cancer, racism, homophobia and sexism,” she said.

As she forgave individuals, she forgave systems.  Her path was clearer close to the door of the tomb.  The more she forgave even those who had told her she was not good enough, the more she loved and liked herself.

As she journeyed in the tomb of pancreatic cancer, people prayed for her, evangelical men and women, Buddhist, Hindus, Sikhs and others.

They prayed God would heal my body.  An atheist friend prayed for me in case there was a God.  I was so glad they prayed for me,” she said.

“Cancer is not the path for all out of the tomb to transformation, but we can learn to love others, journey to see light that guides out of the tomb,” Pastor Renee said.  “In prayer, we are united by the body of Christ if we have the courage to let God change us and let us emerge from our tombs.

“We transform the world through forgiving those who hurt us, acknowledging we are worthy.  In serving God, we feel the Gospel within us, and let others in our lives regardless of doctrines or what they think of us,” she said.  “The only thing that matters is that we are up and walk out of our graves to live the bold, outrageous transformation God calls us to.”

Renee, who was ordained 30 years ago in the Metropolitan Community Churches, has worked in parish ministries in New York City, Washington D.C., Detroit, Tacoma and Seattle/Bellevue.  Her ministry has focused on excluded people—LGBTQ, homeless, youth and disenfranchised.  With a doctoral degree is in medical anthropology, she has taught at Wayne State, Eastern Michigan and the University of Washington, and has worked in HIV/AIDS programs.


Pacific NW UCC News - Copyright © Summer 2019


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