By Holly Eschenbrenner
Sunday, June 23, Reverend Andrew Lovins was commissioned into the California United Church of Christ. Though he has been serving as the minister for about three months, the ceremony marked his official induction into the church.
Rev. Lovins brings with him a doctorate degree and other pastoral experiences to California. He graduated from Northpoint Bible College in Massachusetts with a bachelor's degree in biblical studies. He attended Washington University in Saint Louis. He continued his education at Memphis Theological Seminary receiving a Master's of Divinity. He obtained his Doctorate of Ministry from Evangel University. Before coming to the UCC he has served as a pastor in a Methodist church and in several Pentecostal churches. Lovins also did chaplaincy work in a prison for many years.
The ceremony began with the Rev. Lovins and other local pastors entering into the sanctuary in robes and red stoles. The church membership and denominational UCC leaders filled the pews and listened intently to the conference minister's message. The message, referred to as the challenge, had three main points. The first was directed at the congregation and focused on its responsibilities to the new pastor. Secondly, the message turned to the responsibility Lovins has to the congregation. And finally both the congregation and their new minister were challenged to serve the community.
Lovins explained, "We make these agreements and we come into covenant with each other to fulfill the mission of the church, to love God and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves." He continued, "[The ceremony] helps us to keep our focus on why we exist as a church."
Rev. Lovins has been very pleased with his time in California so far. "We share the same core values" he remarked. He says the church seemed to be a great fit for him. He claimed, "It's a church that has a long history and traditions of lengthy pastorates I wanted to go somewhere where I felt I could settle down for a long time and establish myself for many years to come and this is the kind of church where this has happened in the past."
It seemed Lovins is looking forward to many years of ministering at the California UCC and to becoming a part in the community. To the California community Lovins extended a welcoming invitation to the UCC, "Ultimately we all need faith and in the end faith is all that we have. I think that the great thing about being UCC is that wherever you're at in your journey, if you have a little bit of faith or no faith at all, we believe in a God who excepts people where they're at and loves them despite of whatever they feel is keeping them away from God."