MCC Toronto elects new Senior Pastor in historic vote
Clouds of pink smoke poured from our chimney to announce the election of our next Senior Pastor, Rev. Jeff Rock.
Under the leadership of retiring pastor, Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes, C.M., MCC Toronto has been at the epicentre of LGBTQ rights and marriage equality for four decades. Rev. Rock will work alongside Rev. Dr. Hawkes for four months to ensure a successful leadership transition.
“This congregation has a 44 year legacy of building an inclusive community, city, country and world. But the work here is not done. I am honoured to have been elected to lead the next generation of social justice and faith at Canada’s most progressive Christian church,” said Rev. Rock.
Jeff Rock, 33, is an ordained United Church minister currently serving in Alberta and originally from Sudbury, Ontario. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and Immunology from McGill University and a Master of Divinity degree from The United Theological College in Montreal.
“When we look at the natural world around us, when we use the science of reason and contemplate how extraordinary this world we call home is, we find our faith,” said Rev. Rock. “I studied microbiology and the more I understood the universe and its inner workings, the more I couldn’t help but believe in God and witness the hand of the divine. As I looked in a microscope at the unbelievable complexity of a single celled organism, I sang of God’s creative love.
“We are made in the image of God. All of us. Whether able bodied or differently abled, whether we are gay, straight, indigenous, trans*, cis, bi, black, new Canadian, lesbian, English-speaking, deaf, tall, rich or struggling, confident or shy, extroverted or autistic, have experienced abuse, identify as privileged or vulnerable, whether we are young or old, single or partnered, lonely or socially engaged. We are all loved.”
The search for MCC Toronto’s next Senior Pastor was unique among Canadian churches. Instead of the more common Interim Pastor approach, church leaders selected a single-stage transition model proposed by Susan Beaumont, former associate at the Alban Institute.
“The search for my successor was a patient, transparent and inclusive process and I am so proud of the result,” said Rev. Dr. Hawkes. “We had a very diverse pool of applicants. I am thrilled to pass my life’s work on to Jeff. You could say I’m tickled pink.”
The release of pink smoke to announce the election result was inspired by the tradition of the Vatican’s Papal elections held at the Sistine Chapel. White smoke from the chimney indicates that a new Pope has been elected.
“The pink smoke was fabulous,” said Anne Brayley, Vice Moderator and Chair of the Search Committee. “It was the perfect way to signal this historic step for our church, and to mark the end of a rigorous, careful and thorough selection process.”
Rev. Jeff Rock preached for the first time as Senior Pastor Elect at Sunday’s evening service following the vote.