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Pastor Leigh Ann’s Monthly Blog

Return from Annual Conference – July 2019

Return from Annual Conference 
Pastor’s Ponderings – July 2019
The California Pacific Annual Conference met last week. Attendance was high as we dove into the challenges we face! It was a lot of work! The weather was better than it usually is this time of year but still hot. The days of conference start early and finish late. Barbara Mitchell, Gary Lamb and Pastor Frank were committed and absolutely represented you with panache. I want to give you a little highlight reel of what unfolded in Redlands.
As you may know, our General Conference (a gathering of delegates from across the world) gathered last year and approved something called the Traditional Plan which enhanced requirements and punishments for denying the full participation of LGBTQIA persons in the life of our United Methodist Church. Our regional leadership is generally in agreement that the Traditional Plan is unfaithful to God’s commandment to love God and love neighbor as yourself. Although we have different understandings of gender and sexuality, we believe all people are welcome and beloved in God’s kingdom and any participation should not be evaluated based on who you love or how you identify your gender. NO DECISION was made but the members of the conference made it clear that we will not evaluate leadership, including candidates for ministry, based on sexuality or gender.
Beyond the conversation about sexuality, we also did a lot of regular work including voting on delegates to the next General Conference to be held in 2020 in Minneapolis, MN. Three Laity and three Clergy delegates from our Conference were elected. There will be a Jurisdictional Conference where new Bishops to our Western region will be elected, so eight additional Laity and eight additional Clergy delegates were elected. Jurisdictional Conference could elect as many as three new bishops with three of our current bishops planning to retire. This work of electing delegates took much of our time on Friday. We passed a new Conference budget that represented a reduction of $1.3 million dollars. The Bishop has been steadfast in urging a reduction in budget across our region for the last three years. We approved recommendations to discontinue eight churches in our annual conference including Big Bear Lake UMC. While these recommendations were approved, there was grief for the action. And we voted to affirm all but two resolutions on our consent calendar including a resolution in support of reproductive health care, rights and justice (Res 19-08). We also read the names of and affirmed 210 candidates who are called to be local pastors, and other ordained or set apart leaders for ministry.
We worshiped, sang and ate together. Opening worship was led by the LGBTQIA task force with three clergy sharing poignant of the morning. We held a special worship to honor those retiring from ministry, and a special worship for those who’ve passed away this last year. Rev. Don Diegleman was honored at the memorial service. Barbara and I were invited to plant seeds in remembrance of Don’s life. There was a service to remember your baptismal covenant and a service to ordain and commission new clergy. We shared communion everyday (with gluten free bread).
All of this and more can be looked up on Although it was exhausting and at times frustrating, I’m grateful for the ministry of our church. The relationships of our region create a network for the ministry we do in Vista. The work of our Cable Outreach Grant and our conversations about expanding our facility and everything else we do is because of our connectional church. We support one another in prayer and wisdom and vision, even when we don’t always agree about the Bible or faith. We remain committed to living our lives with Jesus as our model, brother and guide.
Thanks be to God for those who offer leadership, financial support and prayer to our church! Together we are the Kingdom of God reaching out into a broken world. Amen!
Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann Shaw


Busy Faithful Christians – June 2019

Busy Faithful Christians
Pastor’s Ponderings – June 2019
There is a lot going on! Our local church is looking to the future, making plans for expansion of our facility and celebrating our loving, empowering God. We are very busy faithful Christians who care for one another and our neighbors! At the same time that we are doing God’s work in Vista, our denomination is going through some seismic changes. Perhaps you’ve heard some news and wondered what it means.
Let me try and break it down… Our congregation is a part of the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. A jurisdiction is a collection of conferences, which is a collection of local church congregations. The big work of a jurisdiction is to elect Bishops who serve in leadership to the conferences. With the on-going conversations about justice and the application of Biblical teachings, our Western Jurisdiction is taking a larger role in visioning our future. Our current Bishops have spoken out about the decisions of the special-called General Conference in Spring 2019. For more on our jurisdiction there is a helpful website with information at for you to research and learn more.
March 2019, leadership in the Western Jurisdiction gathered and wrote down agreed upon values and shared an emerging vision statement focused on discipleship. The vision for our church looking toward 2020 states that we are called to be:
“A home for all God’s people, gathered around a table of reconciliation and transformation: The Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church is multicultural and inclusive, engaged in the life of its communities, with confident, effective lay and clergy leadership who, in diverse ministry settings, form disciples who live out the Good News of Jesus as global citizens.”
As we look into the future, it is likely our denomination will be going through a major reorganization, but the work that God calls us to continues to be crystal clear. God’s call for Christians has always been to love God and to love our neighbor as ourself. We have always been challenged to care for the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed. We have always been expected to be the hands and feet and voice of Jesus and proclaim the Kingdom of God with all that we do. Despite the changes and challenges nationally and globally, our work in Vista will continue to be at the forefront of our church life together.
To clarify, there is a place at the Vista UMC for all people. Although we are not all in agreement about theology, or the application of the Bible, we all do share a love for God and conviction that we serve God’s grace in this community. Justice, Faith and Hospitality are the cornerstone values this congregation has named as our goals in ministry. We will continue to look for dynamic partnerships to be Christ’s hands and heart to the world. We will continue to offer worship and praise to God who created and gives us life. Let us remember that the work of God happens person to person, and in small groups.
The connections of this congregation continue to be extensive: Beth Hallock and I met with the Executive Director, Dana Bristol-Smith, of Leap to Success. We talked about the work that they are doing to lift up and empower women. I’ve still got a newsletter and thank you note from North County LifeLine in my box that I want to read and respond to. Their work helping victims of sex and labor trafficking become survivors is powerful and humbling. Two of our missionaries, Paul Jeffery and Katherine Parker, have been and will be in our area to share with us about their work around the world. (Special thanks to Sue Humphrey and Jacque Howard for all they do for missions and missionaries!) On Easter Sunday our attendance in worship was 419, with almost a 50-person increase in first service from 2018! On Mother’s Day our attendance was 221, with our amazing children singing in worship! The church choir is making final preparations and practice for their Ireland trip coming up for the summer. Our Boy Scout Troop and Crew continue to raise strong young people and regularly share their great appreciation for the support of this congregation! So many connections, so much faithful ministry and all because of YOU responding to God!
Trust that God will make a way and we will grow together into God’s future for us! Our faith will carry us! God bless you today and everyday!
Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann Shaw


Why do we worship? May 2019

Why Do We Worship?
Pastor’s Ponderings – May 2019
Worship is not something we instinctively know how to do, but something we must learn every generation. While all generations have differences of experience and perspective, there is continuity in what we crave. We all crave love, acceptance and belonging. Worship provides a space to learn that we are loved, accepted and that we belong to the maker of the universe.
Richard Foster wrote, “Worship is our response to the overtures of love from the heart of the Father. It is kindled within us only when the Spirit of God touches our human spirit.” Many people believe that God is love. Worship is the place where we interact with our loving God, along with other people who are doing the same. Together we ask questions and wonder what it all means.
Worship is not a show we subscribe to on YouTube or turn on through Netflix. Although there is faith- based programing that we can learn about faith from, there is no substitute for participatory faith. In fact, Jesus became human, to come to our world, to show us in person what it means to live a life faithfully. He traveled around his region offering lessons, and health care and prescribing community collaboration. Jesus didn’t phone in a relationship with us or video tape a message for us, but came to us and offered us a chance to interact with him.
Worship is a gathering of people, looking in the same direction, to give thanks to God and grow in understanding. When you come on Sunday morning, in order to get the most out of your worship time, it is valuable to get your heart in the right place. The Jewish people believe Sabbath begins at sundown the evening before. Consider a special prayer Saturday evening asking God to open your heart, and set aside your troubles from the week before. Come on Sunday morning with a fresh spirit, free from distraction (as often as you can).
Arrive at church in time to get the seat you are comfortable in, and say hello to the people you call “friend.” Look for new people or visitors, people who look confused or alone and offer a greeting or to show them where the bathrooms or other places on campus are. Intentionally quiet your spirit and remember the sanctuary is more than a big room, it is a sacred space where we look to see God. The sanctuary is meant to be a holy place. It is a place consecrated for the purpose of meeting and celebrating faith and God. Consider the volume of your voice, the conversations you carry on, how you engage or distract others from centering themselves on God and worship.
Worship is NOT something someone else can do for us, but something we must choose for ourselves. But we don’t worship alone and so we have to trust one another to help us worship in a holy and reverent way. And being holy and reverent doesn’t mean we can’t have fun, but it does mean we have a common goal. Our goal is to meet God and be filled up for the week ahead, giving thanks for all that we have that comes from grace.
Thanks be to God!
Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann Shaw


Building Update

The Building Committee has been working with the Planning Department of the City of Vista in order to fulfill our commitment to our Congregation with the proposed completion of our facility.

The City had requested that we reach out to our neighbors. We had planned face to face meetings in early March and then Covid-19 changed those plans. We had to determine another way to reach out and explain our reasons, provide the plans and the concepts. Once that was completed, the information was mailed to over 470 homes/businesses allowing them the opportunity to call or email the Church office with questions or arrange for a masked face-to-masked face meeting for an exterior visualization. If you would like to read this letter, please CLICK HERE.
Online Worship
Worship with us ONLINE.  You can find our worship time at our YouTube channel at United Methodist Church of Vista.  Or, if you receive a weekly newsletter, you will receive a link every week for our service.

We are developing a plan for safe in-person worship and gathering.  Any in-person events, including worship will be offered only when we can assure the safety of our congregation and community.  Until there is a vaccine or other treatment for COVID-19, any in-person gatherings will require face masks, physically distancing of at least six feet, limited singing, spoken litanies, prayers and sermons, no potlucks or offered coffee/cookie fellowship, and no handshakes, hugging or other greeting line with the pastor or church staff.  Our plan is being developed with guidelines from our Bishop, Annual Conference, city and state guidelines and best practices based on up-to-date health information.
Food donations for North County Food Bank and Interfaith Community Services
We are collecting food donations to take to the North County Food Bank and Interfaith Community Services. How can you help? Either drop off food items or schedule a pick-up on Wednesday, January 6. To Drop off: leave at the church office, on the bench outside the front office door between 9 am and noon. For Pick-Up: please email Brenda and Mike Walker at and plan to leave your items on your porch or curb by 9 am. For more information call Brenda and Mike Walker at 760. 726.0442.  NO expired or open food, glass jars or homemade items. 
Helping Hands and “and Two Fishes”
If you have any, please consider saving blankets and blankets for Helping Hands Outreach and food containers for “and Two Fishes.” You can drop items off on Thursdays between 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. on the lower parking lot near the gate. Someone from “and Two Fishes” should be able to assist you. Please contact Brenda Walker, or the church office 760.726.0442, with any any questions. “and Two Fishes” is still providing a sack lunch and a “to-go meal” on Thursday evenings between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m.


Zoom meetings are one way we are working on keeping connected.  All you need is a computer or smartphone with a built-in microphone and a camera and you can join in. Click on the link and follow the prompts to join the gathering.  We are all learning as we go!  See you there!  

Coffee Chat after Worship, Sundays at 10:30 a.m.


Frank’s Music Chat, Mondays at 11:00 a.m.


Congregational Care Meeting,
January 7, 1:30 p.m.


Trustees, January 19, 6:30 pm


Finance, January 27, 7:00 p.m.


Church Council, Jan. 30, 9:00 a.m.
To view Christmas Eve Worship, please click on:

To view “Prepare Him Room” music concert celebrating Advent and the Christmas season, please click on:

Update from the Education Committee
As with most things, COVID-19 related health and safety protocols have limited the programs and events supported by the UMC Vista Education Committee, but we want you to know we are still here with the same purpose; to bring faith enrichment and education to our church youth, families and to the community. Needless to say, finding ways to serve this purpose has been a new challenge but through the initiative and dedication of the teachers and members of our congregation, we’ve connected in various ways over the last several months. Deliveries of flowers, blessing bags, Youth Group welcome kits and Sunday School at-home packets are some ways we’ve remained engaged.
As we gear up with the new season and continue to be mindful of doing our part to support health and safety guidelines, we are at work developing plans for Sunday school connections and other safe activities. Unfortunately, our cherished Annual Trunk or Treat event is not an activity we can responsibly host as currently advised by the San Diego County Health Advisory Board but we’ll continue to work to find alternatives until we can be back together again.
If you feel called to join Education Committee or have suggestions, questions or comments, we are always happy to hear from you! You can contact the church.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic and out of concern for the well-being of our community, we are postponing our church meetings and activities until further notice.  Don’t hesitate to contact us for prayer or to talk. 


The Education/Discipleship program is postponing meetings and activities until further  notice.

Family Game Night is postponed until further notice.