Congregation Calls Christian Briones

On Sunday, April 28, 2019, the congregation of Mayflower Church unanimously voted to call Christian Briones as its new Associate Minister, as recommended by the search committee. Christian preached at the 11 am worship service prior to the vote.

Our deep thanks to the search committee (Josephine Fernandez, Gary Legwold, Mark Lorenzen, Holly Magner, Natalie Owens-Pike, Sarah Campbell, and Karen Smith Sellers) for the tremendous time and energy they put into the search.

The search committee shares this about Christian:

Our attentiveness to Christian began when we read in his UCC Profile: “I am passionate about telling stories of love,  redemption, hope, wholeness, and joy. I am passionate about empowering other people and helping nurture people’s gifts. I am passionate about connecting with people and building meaningful relationships. I am passionate about  seeing the church live up to its full potential in regards to its ability to be an agent of transformation and justice in the world. I am passionate about the message of Jesus Christ and its power to transform the world to be a more a peaceful, compassionate and just place. I am passionate about naming the variety of ways in which the people of God can eradicate white supremacy, heterosexism, islamophobia, ableism, and all of the societal norms that exist at the expense of God’s people. I am passionate about empowering others to find their voice and find how God is calling them to be an advocate. I am passionate about seeing people grow in their faith and in their responsibility to their fellow human.”

Our interest in Christian grew as we listened to his sermons, read his blog, participated in a video interview, and checked references. We observed and heard about an individual with excellent relationship-building skills and a lively intellect. One who knows him well wrote, ‘Christian is a bold, compassionate, perceptive person who reaches people with his sincerity and keen sense of personal and corporate justice. He has a fine ecumenical and interfaith spirit, and will enhance any staff team of which he is part.” Another said, “His unique skill set across cultural and ethnic differences, his ability to relate with people of all age groups and social demographics, and his winsome personality mark him as an exceptional minister.”

Christian’s in-person visit confirmed that his gifts and abilities align with our deepest sense of what God calls Mayflower to be, and with our Local Church Profile, which specifies that the next Associate Minister will:

  • work with the Race Matters team to understand and dismantle white privilege and realize our vision of a more inclusive community;
  • help define our congregation’s vision for racial and cultural diversity and inclusivity;
  • help Mayflower live into our vision of increased visibility, critical mass, and leadership of members from all non-dominant backgrounds;
  • continue to expand inclusivity of and leadership from the GLBTQI members and staff at Mayflower and beyond;
  • integrate new members and invite them to leadership, connect newcomers with their passions, and creatively expand adult faith formation;
  • empower Mayflower members and leaders, through faith-based organizing, to organize in collaboration for God’s dream of justice.

In addition, Christian’s gifts correspond with our Local Church Profile, which states that demonstrated intercultural competency and experience in the next Associate Minister is imperative and competency with additional languages is preferred. The Profile states that an Associate Minister who is bilingual and/or from a non-dominant cultural background would bring particular gifts to move with this congregation toward fulfilling our mission.

Christian Briones is a first generation U.S. citizen and a native of Garland, TX. His mother came to this country from El Salvador and his father from Mexico. During high school, he felt the call to ministry and moved to Abilene to pursue a degree in Biblical Studies from Hardin Simmons University. In an effort to build a fresh expression of Christian community, he spent a semester in London with Awaken Church. His Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in Sexual and Gender Justice is from Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth. For three years he was named a Walker Preaching Scholar, an award given to Brite students identified as gifted preachers. In addition, he was a part of QUOTA (Queer Union of Thoughtful Academics) and served with The Women’s Center in Fort Worth as an advocate for sexual assault survivors.

During seminary, Christian served as Director of Youth and Children at Edge Park United Methodist Church in Fort Worth. He regularly led worship at Edge Park and was responsible for organizing fundraising, community outreach, and youth community-building events. Of particular note is how his practice of getting into the community and at parishioners’ extra-curricular activities won him the hearts of many. In a context of reluctance and resistance, he relied on the power of authentic relationships to engage nearly one-fifth of the congregation in a class on white supremacy that he designed and taught. With youth and adults, he offered a space to bravely explore faith, foster curiosity, and move outside of comfort zones.

Currently, he is a member of First Congregational UCC, Fort Worth, TX, and has been approved by the North Texas Association of the South Central Conference UCC for ordination, pending a call. He will be ordained Saturday, May 25, 2019, at First Congregational Church.

When not engaged in ministry, Christian unwinds by reading or writing at a local coffee shop. His writing consists of anything from journaling to poetry to punchlines in sermons yet to be preached. His wide variety of interests leads him to read critical race theory, novels, Marvel comics, and the latest works of his favorite scholars. Christian enjoys playing PlayStation 4, spending time with friends, and working out daily.

Christian says this about the church: I believe deeply in the Church and its potential to embody the love, compassion, and justice of God. Despite statistics showing the decline, the time is ripe for the Church to show up, and Mayflower is showing up. I am profoundly humbled and deeply grateful to have the opportunity to candidate and to minister to and  with this congregation. Mayflower is the most vibrant and proactive congregation I have encountered. I am astonished at the way Mayflower seeks to transform itself and the wider community to bring about God’s dream of justice.

As the Associate Minister Search Committee completes this seven-month process of discernment and search, we are inspired by the words of Vida Scudder: “Without the call to high adventure, the faith has never flourished.” In Christian Briones, we have found the right Associate Minister to journey with us as our collective hopes and dreams unfold.

Sincerely,
Josephine Fernandez, Gary Legwold, Mark Lorenzen, Holly Magner, Natalie Owens-Pike, Sarah Campbell, and Karen Smith Sellers