After six years as lead pastor, and years before that as both a Methodist minister and high school teacher, Hammer will retire during a special service planned for Sunday, June 11 at the church, located at 4444 Black Ave., across from the city’s aquatic center.
A life-long United Methodist and second-career pastor, she served at St. John’s United Methodist in Rohnert Park and San Ramon Valley (Alamo) United Methodist before joining Lynnewood United as lead pastor in July 2011. A graduate of the Pacific School of Religion with a Master’s degree of Divinity), she also earned a Master’s from the University of Maryland and a bachelors from American University in Washington, D.C. She has lived in Austria, Switzerland, and Micronesia.
Heather preaches most weeks, always using the Bible, but also sharing contemporary issues and literature. She said she will continue this tradition at Easter Sunday’s services at 9 and 10:30 a.m. She said her sermons will proclaim “the victory of life over death and the hope that the Risen Christ brings to each person, proclaiming the age-old Easter promise and presenting a modern-day challenge as well.
Referring to new books just published, “Hallelujah Anyway” by Anne Lamott and “The Reinhold Niebuhr Story: An American Conscience” by Jeremy L. Sabella, Hammer will make the case that our society needs a new voice of conscience. She will ask people to contemplate what resurrection could mean in our world today.
The morning services will feature a brass quartet, organ, and choir anthems, including “Hallelujah” Händel’s Messiah. Two trumpets and two French horns will accompany traditional hymns, such as Charles Wesley’s “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” under the direction of Donna Kirch, Director of Music, with Organist Amelia Han Riegert also offering special music.
There will be childcare for small children at both services and children’s activities for older ones during the 10:30 service. Families traditionally bring cut flowers for children to design into a floral cross and take into the sanctuary at the conclusion of the 10:30 service. Hot-cross buns will be served on the patio following both services.
Easter weekend actually begins Friday at Lynnewood with a Good Friday service at 7:30 p.m. The service will feature organ, scripture and a dramatic play, “Good Friday Grace,” by Teryl Cartwright. Individuals will portray the roles of robe maker, crown maker, whip maker, nail maker, cross maker and stone maker, directed by Jim Bailey.
Lorna Kruse will play an oboe solo, “O Sacred Head Now Wounded,” creating a somber mood to contrast with Easter morning.
Special services will continue as the congregation at Lynnewood honors its retiring pastor. At 7 p.m. April 23, Lynnewood will show the documentary by Martin Doblmeier, “The Reinhold Niebuhr Story.” At 11:45 a.m. April 30, the church will host Dr. Peter Claver Ajer, a New Testament professor from Pacific School of Religion visiting from Uganda.
Hammer has long been active in the interfaith community in the Tri-Valley. She hosted prayer vigils against gun violence following the San Bernardino and Orlando shootings, organized an interfaith peace ring at the Muslim Community Center in Pleasanton, and, along with four other United Methodist churches, has sponsored two refugee families. Using her English and foreign language teaching skills, she recently helped a family of seven from Afghanistan enroll in school and learn English.
Lynnewood celebrated its 50th Jubilee Anniversary in 2016. The church earned the Pleasanton Community of Character Award in 2014 for its service in the community.
“I have been fortunate to have three meaningful callings: homemaker, teacher and minister,” Hammer said. “Next in retirement, I hope to write, which is something I have never had time for, other than in sermons. “Still, I will miss the wonderful congregation of Lynnewood.”
The Rev. Dr. Henry Kim has been appointed lead pastor at Lynnewood starting in July. He is a third-generation Methodist from South Korea with degrees in electrical engineering from Penn State University, in theology from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Pacific School of Religion. He and his wife Eun Young live in Pleasanton. Their two children are graduates of Foothill High School.
For more information about Lynnewood United Methodist Church or to contact the Rev. Hammer, sign on to the church’s website at www.lynnewood.org.