By Lori BODNAR
Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church (CVUMC) has a new pastor: Louise Fairweathre-Baxter has been ordained for 30 years and served in six other churches.
“I felt called to the ministry after graduating from college,” she said. “My undergraduate degree was in performing arts and I was granted the Wilshire Preaching Award upon my graduation from seminary, so I preach with dramatic flair. I earned my Master of Divinity from Claremont School of Theology and was ordained by the California-Pacific Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.”
Fairweathre-Baxter grew up in California and said she enjoys the local area.
“I love the Crescenta Valley area, particularly the stores and restaurants on Honolulu Avenue, which remind me of Coronado, my hometown where I grew up in San Diego County. Most of the congregations I have served were in Orange County. Montrose also reminds me of Tustin, which is where our home is located. I split my time living in a studio apartment in La Crescenta within walking distance of the church and going home to Tustin to be with my family.”
Fairweathre-Baxter joined CVUMC in July.
“United Methodist clergy is appointed by our bishop to the churches we serve, but we are able to list both the ‘gifts and graces’ [talents & skills] we possess, and describe the kind of congregation we feel would be best served by our individual personalities,” she said. “My bishop presented me with CVUMC and I was immediately excited about the church after looking at its website and seeing all the ministries in which it is involved assisting people in need, its style of worship with professional band musicians, and the congregation’s openness to diversity. Further, CVUMC is a reconciling congregation, which means it embraces the LGBTQ+ community. The congregation is thoughtful about what it means to follow the teachings of Jesus and the icing on the cake is the excellent child care center. I am grateful to be appointed to CVUMC as its senior pastor.”
The new pastor enjoys the inclusive atmosphere of the CV United Methodist Church.
“The openness of the people – to diversity, culture differences and the way they are embracing children – was very encouraging,” said Fairweathre-Baxter. “I am ‘all about’ children – their well-being, safety, sense of belonging and growth as precious human beings beloved by God, and CVUMC is aligned with my philosophy. I feel blessed to be here, to be part of such an inclusive congregation, and to see Christ’s mandate to love one another and our neighbors being put into practice.”
Among her plans, Fairweathre-Baxter said she plans to expand the church child care, develop a book club and start a study group.
“Working in conjunction with the new preschool director, we are already expanding our child care center to include a second infant room that will open in January [this month]. We are discussing additional plans for a kindergarten class and an after-school care program for elementary age children.
“A couple of church members are looking at developing an LGBTQ+ book club to create a safe place for fellowship and to discuss material apropos for the community. We also hope to start a study group to help educate our congregation and the community about the needs, issues and fears of the queer community.”
The congregation embraces these changes while keeping other traditions.
“Some traditions are well worth keeping for their comfort in this difficult post-COVID era, and they solidify the identity of our fellowship,” she said. “On the other hand, the congregation has embraced the changes I have brought to worship, supported the growth and expansion of our child care center, and is enthusiastic about starting ministries that will help people in the area around our campus.”
The Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church has about 100 members. CVUMC church services are in English and Korean: 10 a.m. services are in English and 11:30 a.m. in Korean. The church is located at 2700 Montrose Ave. in Montrose.