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Methodists welcome new pastor

Leadership: Rev. MacKinnon looks to share energy, passion with new congregation

Posted: July 30, 2010 4:27 p.m.
Updated: July 31, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Rev. Melissa Roux MacKinnon was recently appointed senior pastor at Santa Clarita United Methodist church in Santa Clarita. She moved to the area from Arcadia, where she had led a congregation since 2002.

Only a few weeks into the job as senior pastor, Rev. Melissa Roux MacKinnon has already injected some new energy into the Santa Clarita United Methodist Church.

“There’s been a lot of electricity; it’s been an easy transition,” said church member and administrative assistant Kathy Gray. “She has a very caring spirit, and it shows. Everybody responds to that.”

The church welcomed MacKinnon, 42, who recently moved to Santa Clarita from Arcadia on July 18. Early this month, the congregation expressed their thanks to Rev. L.L.C. Hammond and sent her on to new ministry opportunities.

MacKinnon isn’t really looking to shake things up. The church already exudes a welcoming community and involvement in the community, she said. 

“I see that this church has a long history in this valley of providing for the community and its members,” Roux said.

But Roux does see how her passions and spiritual gifts can spur the church and its growth onward.

“I have a passion for the spiritual journey and seeing how it’s manifested in each life stage,” she said.

MacKinnon is a native Southern Californian, born and raised in Glendale. She became a Methodist after high school.

“I found that the Methodist church was a great place of balance — they talked about personal piety and devotion to God, and at the same time, there’s a focus on reaching out to others, missions and justice work,” she said.

After college, she worked for a couple of years in the mental health field before hearing the call to ordained ministry. At the time, she was sitting on some ministry committees with her church and working with the youth.

The decision to study and work towards full-time ministry was easy, she said.

“It was a realization that my faith is my foundation — my faith is what gives life meaning,” she said. “Why wouldn’t I want to be involved in that and share that on a daily basis.

“I felt that working in the church as a minister was where my heart was and where I really wanted to be,” she added. 

In 1995, MacKinnon and her family moved to North Carolina, where she attended The Divinity School at Duke University. In 1999, she graduated with her Master of Divinity from Duke, and was ordained a deacon in the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. “It was only because of the support I got from my family that I was able to get through the process of school and be in ministry,” she said.

She took on her first ministry role as associate pastor at Elon First United Methodist Church. She was the church’s first female pastor.

“It was a lot about learning to trust each other,” she said. “I learned that if we have different theologies, we can still work together.”

In 2002, MacKinnon was ordained an elder and brought into full membership of the North Carolina Conference. That same year she received an out-of-the-blue phone call offering her an opportunity to move back to California to serve at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Arcadia.

She ministered in Arcadia for eight years before the Methodist Church’s Board of Ordained Ministry appointed her to Santa Clarita.

“They look at your gifts and what you have to offer, what your church needs and then they try and match those,” she said.

MacKinnon and her husband, David MacKinnon, moved with their two young boys to Valencia. She was warmly welcomed by the congregation, she said.

She is already tuned into the numerous nonprofit organizations and social justice missions that the Bouquet Canyon Road church in involved in, including, Family Promise of SCV, the Interfaith Council, the Emergency Winter Shelter of SCV, the SCV Food Pantry and more.

“The Methodist Church is really about ‘Get out and live your faith,’” she said.

MacKinnon hopes the church can be a place for people to experience the grace and love of God, grow spirituality and engage in a community of support.

She is still feeling out the congregation and community but she knows one thing for sure: She has a lot of energy. 

And much of that energy stems from her passion “for balanced ministry in that we reach out to people of all ages in all life stages,” she said. “In every life stage, we have to reach and provide ways for people to plug in.”


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