Dr. Katie Manning, a member of the congregation at Mid City Church of the Nazarene and a professor of writing at PLNU, spoke about the installation of new pastor, Becky Modesto, saying, “It’s deeply beautiful and meaningful to me that she would want to step into leadership and let God use her in that way, to be part of healing that congregation and making something beautiful out of the ashes of something really awful.”
John Wright, former PLNU professor and former senior pastor of Mid City, was removed from the staff for allegations of sexual abuse in November of 2017.
Manning said, “I think we went through a time of mourning. It was a really traumatic thing.” Manning described moments of despair, where she felt that her family may have to find a new church home, but the congregation decided to stay strong. She said, “We weren’t going to let one person ruin the work of that church. There’s so much that’s really good and healthy, so I think if we can cut away the things that are really sick, then those things that are good and healthy are going to be able to thrive.”
The new senior pastor, Becky Modesto, preached for the first time on the first Sunday of August. In the meantime, the board of the church stepped up to coordinate services. Bob Smith, former PLNU professor, served as the interim pastor for Mid City. Members of the congregation also were able to step up to cover different pieces. Manning said, “There are those unexpectedly beautiful things that happen in really awful situations, but one of the things that happened with losing our entirely pastoral staff was people who you would never expect to be leading in a service were leading in a service.”
Manning says the installation of a new pastor feels like the church can heal. “I can say personally that it felt so meaningful to me to have her accept us. Here’s this group of people who have been so deeply hurt. That’s going to take a whole lot of time to heal so I just kept thinking: Who would know that we have that much trauma and baggage and still want to come and be our pastor?”
Becky Modesto, the new pastor for Mid City Church of the Nazarene, and her husband, PLNU sociology co-chair member Kevin Modesto, moved to City Heights almost 15 years ago. They began attending Mid City Church a couple years after moving.
Modesto felt called to pastoral ministry when she was a senior at PLNU. Modesto said, “Pastoral ministry, even though it was an early calling, was a long detour… I wasn’t necessarily looking for this particular position. When the board chair called me up and asked me to consider the position, I thought, ‘okay, what is this door, and do I walk through it.’ Just through a couple months of prayer and discernment, meeting with the board and interviewing with the church, I fell in love with the group of people that are at Mid City.”
Modesto said, “When they called me to consider the position, God gave me a really solid sense of peace that this was the right move. I’m very excited to step into this senior pastor role and it’s been almost 30 years since my original call in college.”
Modesto said she is very hopeful, as she sees God doing amazing work. “It is a privilege to walk alongside them through this path of healing, but also just hope and excitement for what God is now doing in this new time together.”