Transition News from Associate Minister Rev. Kit Novotny

May 13, 2021

Dear beloved First Church community,

It is with mixed emotions that I share a major life update: My husband Nate and I have made the bittersweet decision to move back to Massachusetts this summer, in order to raise our children closer to our families. My last Sunday will be July 11. While we’ve long imagined a “one-day” return East (we both grew up in the Boston area), the timing took on new urgency during these long months of pandemic separation. Like so many others, the pandemic helped us (forced us?) to reevaluate our priorities for this season of life, in the shadow of life’s fragility. 

Thank you, dear church, for being our village and spiritual homebase these past 6+ years, and for all the ways you have supported, nurtured, fed (literally and otherwise), challenged and shaped me and my family. This ministry relationship has been so formative, as my second called, and first settled pastor position. I arrived in Berkeley in 2015, a bright-eyed 27 year old called as Young Adult Minister… and here I am, two kids later, no longer quite as young, having endured a whole lot of complex life together, including a church fire and a global pandemic. Thank you for all your generosity and kindness over the years, especially in my transitions into parenthood.

Through it all, I have grown as both a pastor and a person, and I have awoken to all the ways I’m being called to continue to grow. Your stories are written on my heart. I weep (with what Zoe calls “happy tears”) to remember the ups and downs we’ve walked together, the babies I’ve had the honor of baptizing, bread broken, the hinges of time we have witnessed together at hospital bedsides, weddings, memorial services, holidays and holy days… all the fun and insight of scripture improvs, retreats, countless Open Chapel story-sermons, twinkly lights and meals all those Wednesday nights (remember buffets!? Ha)… not to mention all those ordinary day-to-day ministry moments of meetings, cups of coffee, prayers and songs… all the little, glimmering aha moments that make up this shared life of faith.

It has been a blessing to have been one of your pastors throughout several collaborative staffing configurations. I am grateful for all those clergy and staff members I have shared these hallowed offices and chancel (and Zooms!) with. What a high bar you have all set as colleagues and congregation — so much creativity and compassion. Right now our plan is to take some time between church ministry positions, while Nate has been offered a (remote) poetry teaching job as we transition. 

It’s never an easy time to say goodbye, but I am especially feeling the sting of not getting to have a full post-pandemic reunion with you all. In the best of all worlds, I wish the timing were able to be a little different given Molly’s sabbatical, but when we weighed all the factors, we came to clarity about what is best for our family at this time. I’m hopeful to get to see many of you in person in some capacity, ideally at one of the summer Sunday Lawn Church gatherings — one of which will be held the evening of my last Sunday with you all, July 11, at 4pm.

As we reflected in worship this past Sunday, while our faith doesn’t make any of this bittersweet life easier, it can make it good, and full, and beautiful. So, in faith, I look forward to this next chapter for us all, and to as good and beautiful a goodbye as we can muster! Let it be known that I am fully vaccinated and enthusiastically open to hugging other fully-consenting, fully vaccinated people, at your comfort level! Elbow bumps, bows, walks, emails/texts, and/or Zoom/phone heart-to-hearts also warmly welcomed. 

Thank you, for everything. And may God keep all our going out and our coming in, from this time on and forevermore (Psalm 121).

May it be so.