Rev. Aisha Brooks-Lytle wanted to stay at Mt. Airy Presbyterian Church for at least a decade, but God, she said, had other plans.
In early January, after more than three years with the church, Brooks-Lytle, 38, told her congregation that she would be stepping down as head pastor. Her last day was Thursday.
“That was hard,” said Brooks-Lytle of the Jan. 6 service.
On Friday, the West Oak Lane-native will begin her work as an associate pastor at Wayne Presbyterian Church on the Main Line. With an increasingly sick husband and a son to care for, Brooks-Lytle said she needed a job with more flexibility and a little less responsibility.
“I need to be in a space where I’m on a team,” she said.
Brooks-Lytle also felt that it might be more cost-effective for the church to move away from having a full-time pastor.
The church recently lost a trio of renters – Child Space Day Care Center, Khepera Charter School and WICK. Having a part-time pastor, she figured, would allow the church to continue its ministry work as it figured out how it wanted to tackle the loss of tenants.
Despite the practicality behind her decision, Brooks-Lytle said it will be tough to leave the church and Mt. Airy behind. She noted that she’ll particularly miss the neighborhood’s diversity and the intimacy of her congregation.
“They get to know you and they care for you,” she said of the congregation, which consisted of approximately 85 weekly worshipers.
Wayne Presbyterian has about 2,000 members of the congregation on the books.
The church and the neighborhood will also miss Brooks-Lytle.
“I see her departure as an enormous loss to the whole community,” said Elayne Bender, executive director of East Mt. Airy Neighbors. “She is such a strong and beautiful and dynamic leader and a force for all that’s positive and good in the world.”
Until March, Brooks-Lytle was board president of EMAN. She resigned to allow more time with her family.
“She is a very fine pastor,” said Rev. Dr. Lucille K. Rupe, Interim Executive Presbyter at the church.
Rupe said it’s unclear whether the church will replace Brooks-Lytle with a full-time or part-time pastor.
It’s also unclear if the congregation will stay at its Mt. Pleasant building going forward. Given that the property is much larger than needed, Rupe said the congregation could move, noting that a decision would likely take six months to a year to make.
“This congregation is in a decision-making time,” said Rupe. “There are many variables here that the moderators and the leaders will need to determine.”
For more information about Mt. Airy Presbyterian, visit www.mtairypres.org