Clouds of pink smoke poured from the chimney of the largest church in the denomination earlier today to announce the election of its next Senior Pastor, Rev. Jeff Rock.
Retiring senior pastor, Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes, C.M., has been at the epicenter of LGBTQ rights and marriage equality for four decades. Rev. Rock will work alongside Rev. Hawkes for the next four months to ensure a successful leadership transition.
“The search for my successor was a patient, transparent, and inclusive process, and I am so proud of the result,” Rev. Hawkes said. “We had a very diverse pool of applicants. I am thrilled to pass my life’s work on to Jeff.”
“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 honored to have been elected to lead the next generation of social justice and faith at Canada’s most progressive Christian church,” Rev. Rock said.
Rev. Rock, 33, is an ordained United Church minister 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,” Rev. Rock said. “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.”
“MCC celebrates the election of Rev. Rock, and blesses MCC Toronto as a new chapter begins,” said Rev. Elder Rachelle Brown, global Interim Moderator for Metropolitan Community Churches. “Rev. Hawkes’ legacy of 40 successful years of ministry is a tribute to both his life’s work and to MCC Toronto’s impact in the areas of social justice and human rights. As Interim Moderator, I look forward to working with Rev. Rock and supporting his vision for MCC Toronto’s future.”
Anne Brayley served as the Chair of the Pastoral Search Committee and is also the Vice Moderator for MCC Toronto’s Board of Directors. She said it was a privilege to meet a number of qualified candidates during the search process.
“Rev. Rock stood out among them and we are delighted at the overwhelming support he has received from the congregation,” Brayley said.
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.
“I think the pink smoke is fabulous,” Rev. Rock said.