Saying goodbye

Pointe of Grace’s Becks wrapping up final week as pastors
By Brandon Gustafson | Jul 03, 2019
Photo by: Brandon Gustafson John and Joan Beck have been pastors at Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church since 2015, back when it was a part of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood. Now, the couple are finishing up their last week at the Mukilteo church.

It’s not easy saying goodbye. Especially to a tight-knit community you’ve been a part of since 2015.

But that’s how life goes, and John and Joan Beck, the pastors of Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church in Mukilteo, are wrapping up their final week as the leaders of the local church.

“Because we’re what’s called ‘transitional pastors’ or ‘interim ministers,’ when we got the assignment (in Mukilteo), we knew our days would be numbered,” Joan said. “We wanted to see to tasks to solidify the congregation.”

“We have specialized training for this,” John said. “We help a congregation transition from one pastor to another, and often pastors and the congregation get attached.”

The couple have led the church since the summer of 2015, and have each written columns for The Beacon’s Weekly Worship section since arriving in town.

The Becks arrived in Mukilteo after working in Chicago, and Pointe of Grace was under the umbrella of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood. Now, four years later, Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church is an independent church under the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

“Every administrative function had been through the Lynnwood congregation,” John said. “Every aspect of finance … and now, I have five pieces of software that have become my best friends.”

One of the differences between when the church was under the Trinity umbrella versus now is the organizational structure.

“Trinity is more staff-driven. This is smaller and volunteer-driven,” John said.

Despite living in Chicago prior to their stop in Mukilteo, the Becks consider the Pacific Northwest home. They lived in Oregon before moving to Chicago, and John is from Marysville.

“The first week we were here, someone died, and it turned out they were connected to people who knew John,” Joan said, “so it was kind of like coming home in a way.”

One thing the Becks say they both love and appreciate is diversity. Living in Chicago, they said the diversity was stunning, but different from the diversity they encountered while in Portland. They saw much of that same diversity in Mukilteo.

“The diversity in Mukilteo is profound and part of what we’ve tried to do,” John said. “We created a safe space to affirm each other and keep dialogue open. It’s truly been a gift to be a part of this diverse community.”

John was a member of Mayor Jennifer Gregerson’s diversity committee, and Joan said she is proud of how the church’s congregation acted during 2016, when people voiced opposition to a mosque being built in Mukilteo. The church hosted open houses with different local religious leaders regarding the Muslim faith.

“The congregation responded to the Islamaphobia, and several members stepped up and continue to do that,” she said.

“And now some people identify Pointe of Grace with the Muslim community, including some local Muslims,” John said.

Looking back, the Becks say that have much to be proud of during their stint in Mukilteo. This includes growing the church’s congregation, becoming a more tight-knit congregation and strengthening the ties between the church and the church’s preschool, as well as the Mukilteo Teen Lounge, the latter a spot for students 12-18 to visit  after school to hang out, play games, or catch up on homework. It opened in February 2017.

“Being in the community, we’ve been invited to things like concerts and plays, but the way the Teen Lounge developed, to see students from the middle school and high school – some who are at risk – to have them come here and for them develop friendships has been really beautiful to see,” Joan said.

Joan said she will miss the community deeply.

“I’m going to miss working with this congregation and getting more involved in the community,” she said. “It already is, but I can only see that happening more.”

Despite being on site for four years, the couple were still transitional leaders, and the time would come when a new, permanent leader would be named.

That leader is Pamela Gompf, who was accepted as pastor by the church’s congregation by a 46-1 vote. It will be her first call as a pastor – she will begin her work at Pointe of Grace on July 29, with her first Sunday being Aug. 4. She is a mother of three, and her children attend Columbia Elementary, Harbour Pointe Middle School, and Kamiak High School.

The Becks’ last day is Saturday, as they are leading a funeral for a recently deceased member of the church’s congregation.

After that, they will still be in the area, at least for a little while.

The couple live in Lynnwood, and John is working part-time with the Bethesda Lutheran Church in Mountlake Terrace. He will be there for the rest of the year.

What comes after that?

Shortly before they moved to Chicago, one of their children moved in with them in Portland. When they left, their child stayed in the home.

“The question was would we ever get it back?” John said, laughing. “Last week, we got the call that they’re moving out this summer and we’ll be moving back to Portland. We love it here, but Portland has been our place for the bulk of our marriage.

“Who knows what will happen there? But it will likely be retirement.”

 

 

 

 

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