Sunday, January 17, 2010
The Pastoral Nominating Committee presents
The Reverend Mark Richard Burnham
The Pastoral Nominating Committee:
Martha Bennett, Steve Frellick, John Jackson, Neil Leach, Paul McNeill,
Jil Meadows, Eula Pence, Anne Robinson, Joshua Robinson
Mark was born and raised in Utica, NY, and his parents have family roots in New England. He attended Hamilton College, a small liberal arts school in Clinton, NY and graduated with a degree in Public Policy in 1983. At Hamilton, he played varsity basketball for four years and was voted captain of the team his senior year.
After college, Mark worked for two years as an insurance claims adjuster in Springfield, MA before enrolling in the Master of International Business program at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. The program included a six month internship in LŸbeck, Germany. While in Columbia, Mark met his wife, Pat, who was working as a guidance counselor in a local school. They spent an adventurous first six months of their married life together in Germany.
Mark and Pat moved to California in 1987 following his graduation, and he worked as a financial analyst in the computer industry in both San Jose and Santa Cruz. During this time, they began attending Trinity Presbyterian Church in Santa Cruz, and Pat was pregnant with their first child. Two weeks before the due date, their son, William, was stillborn. The loving response of the church supported them through that very difficult time, and through a subsequent pregnancy. The faith and vitality of that congregation made a large impact on Mark’s view of the church and his sense of vocation.
They became involved in the church and Mark began to explore a call to ordained ministry. In the meantime, their son, Eli, was born in 1989. With the gracious support of the church The Burnhams moved to Virginia in 1990 for Mark to attend Union Theological Seminary remaining under the care of the Presbytery of San Jose.
Upon graduation in 1993, Mark accepted a call as an Associate Pastor to the Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church, a 2,000 member congregation in Tampa, FL. Their daughter, Charlotte, was born in Tampa that year. From 1995-1999 he served as Pastor and Head of Staff of the First Presbyterian Church in Selma, AL. That they would call an ex-Catholic Yankee to their pulpit tells you something about the congregation!
Since 1999 Mark has served as the Senior Pastor and Head of Staff of the Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos, CA. Although situated in the heart of what is now known as “Silicon Valley,” Los Gatos retains some of its small-town feel. Likewise, the church ministers to a wide gamut of people— from long-time residents and retirees to those new to the area and to the faith; from seniors in the care facility next door to the children and families of their active preschool.
These past years of change and growth would not have been possible without the support of my family. My wife Pat worked to support us through seminary and is now a guidance counselor in a local middle school. Our son Eli, 20, is a sophomore at Birmingham-Southern College and our daughter, Charlotte, 16, is a high school junior. They remind me daily what a joy and privilege it is to be a father. We also have two dogs and two cats as part of the family.
Excerpts from Mark’s Personal Information Form
I look forward to serving a church that values and celebrates the "variety of gifts" that make up the body of Christ. Having grown up a Catholic in upstate New York, lived and worked in a foreign country, and served as a Presbyterian pastor in the deep South and in the West, I enjoy working with divergent cultures and different points of view."
"During my sabbatical in 2008, I did extensive reading in the Benedictine tradition along with daily spiritual disciplines. One translation of Benedict's rule says: "Every day carries the potential to bring the existence of heaven; have the courage to expect good from it." To me, this is the heart of what faith cultivation in a congregation is all about-recognizing and expecting God's presence in our life together."
"My leadership style is based on trust in and respect for the gifts of others. I am, at heart, a team builder, and firmly believe that every member of a team (or committee, staff, or congregation) has something important and unique to contribute. Leadership is not solely the ability to get out in front, but also the willingness to listen deeply to others and to follow where God is calling us to go. I played basketball in high school and college, and the habits and practice of those years are deeply embedded in me. I know how to work together with a team and to recognize my role in relationship to the larger goal of the group.
As a pastor and head of staff for fifteen years I have learned from both successes and missteps. It is my responsibility to provide not only vision and guidance, but also to foster and encourage those same talents in the church. Cultivating and engaging the many talents and gifts of staff and congregation members is both a great joy and vital work as a pastor.
I also bring the qualities of open-mindedness, flexibility, and humor to my ministry work. I enjoy exploring new ideas and creative ways of working with others. In between those who desire a return to the "way things used to be" and those who want to quickly "jump ahead" to the promise of new programs and projects, there can be found a wonderful space of creative energy and imagination for God's Spirit to work."
"One key issue is how the church encounters our 21st-century American culture. The church in North America finds itself in a very different place than it used to be. Fifty years ago, the church enjoyed a privileged place in our culture. Church life was booming. Most Americans attended worship and people respected the church, which was very much at the center of public life. However, that world no longer exists.
Adding to this displacement of the church, the world around us also is different. Change takes places rapidly, discontinuously, and haphazardly. It is chaotic and unpredictable. We have been hit with globalization, pluralism, rapid technological change, postmodernism, staggering needs, loss of faith in primary structures, and the dislocation of our known world. No wonder we feel lost!
In this time, I believe that God is inviting us to step into this "new world" rather than hiding from it or complaining that it's "not like it used to be." Instead, the invitation is to be a missionary people in our own land. Every congregation needs to be cross-cultural missionaries to their own community.
We must move from the mind set that the church is a provider of "religious goods and services" for Christian consumers to being a community which forms a people who are following God's mission in our particular local community. In a world that is increasing suspicious of strangers, a world that is more and more fearful, we in the church have an amazing opportunity to witness to the world."
Statement of Personal Faith
In abundant love, God created the world and all that is in it, pronouncing creation to be “very good.” As part of that creative act, human beings are formed in God’s image and are called to live in healthy relationship with God, with creation, and with one another. Graciously granted the freewill to respond appropriately to God’s love, we too often turn away in sin and live in self-interest. Yet God has not abandoned creation, and so in loving-kindness both yearns for and seeks our return home.
In abundant mercy, God chose to become incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ, whose baptism proclaims Jesus to be “God’s Beloved.” Christ is God’s ultimate expression of love and the revelation of true humanity. Jesus came proclaiming the Good News to all people in both word and deed. Thus, his life and ministry on earth are our standards for Christian life and leadership. Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us and was raised on the third day. His resurrection broke the power of sin and death and is the hope and promise of eternal life with God.
In abundant grace, the Holy Spirit is God’s ever-present power in the world. Throughout history and continuing today, the Spirit both comforts and challenges us. As both the giver and the renewer of life, the Spirit binds us together as the body of Christ— the Church. By the Spirit’s power we witness to the amazing story of God’s love for the world. In acts of generous hospitality, we open our lives and our hearts to friend and stranger alike, never knowing where and how the Spirit blows.
In abundant hope, we move out boldly into the world, guided by the Holy Spirit and trusting in God’s future. All the while we look toward the promise of the coming fullness of God’s reign, remaining ever alert for the presence of God all around us. In the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper the Church celebrates the sign and seal of our continued experience of God’s renewing grace found in Jesus Christ. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are God’s Word to us, and through prayer and careful study they are our guide to a Christian life.
In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit, we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks and to live holy and joyful lives, even as we watch for God’s new heaven and new earth, praying, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (from “A Brief Statement of Faith,” PCUSA Book of Confessions, 10.5)