To my Living Grace Church family:
This past Sunday, we made a very important announcement. I realize that a lot of you were unable to be present for the service for various reasons. And because of that, I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you about our decision to resign as the Lead Pastors of Living Grace effective at the end of January.
It was our hope to be able to make our announcement at a time and place where each of you could hear it firsthand. We feel that we owe you this much. And we wanted you to be able to hear our heart so that you don’t just hear a part of the story and then develop a misunderstanding based on having only part of the information. However, we know that getting everyone together for one Sunday is unrealistic given people’s busy schedules and the amount of sickness that has been going around town the past few weeks. So, this blog entry is our contingency.
For the past 18 months, Jess and I have been evaluating our role as Lead Pastors of the church. We have been looking at a lot of factors. We have prayed a lot of prayers. We have talked with a lot of counselors and mentors. We have not taken this matter lightly. And over that time, we have felt that our time in this role was drawing to a close.
When we started this church in January of 2008, we honestly felt that we would retire as Pastors of this same church. We didn’t see ourselves ever moving on. We thought that all of you – or perhaps your children and grandchildren – would have to lovingly tell us it was time to hand over the reins of leadership to another generation. We just didn’t see any other way. We knew that we wanted to stay tuned in to the Holy Spirit to make sure we were in step with Him along the way, but we never thought we’d see the day when we would not pastor this church.
Throughout this season of evaluation, things have been changing. We have continued to love the people God has sent us over the years, but we see some different things on the horizon for our own family. Currently, I (Andy) am continuing my education with the goal of earning my Masters’ Degree in the next few years. Jess has recently graduated from cosmetology school and is enjoying her new career doing hair in her aunt’s salon. Together, we have come to a real sense of peace about our decision to make a change.
At this point, we don’t see ourselves in any kind of vocational ministry role. We are taking one day at a time and trying to remain in step with the Holy Spirit as He leads us, but the current plan is for me to find employment and continue to offer my gifts to help build up the Body of Christ by serving in a local church.
What about Living Grace?
Our situation at LGC has led the leadership team to evaluate what happens next. We have two major obstacles that were going to be potential problems for us. 1) We were going to have to move out of the Sunnyland Plaza in the near future due to the property renovations and increased rent requirements, and to this point, no doors have opened for us to find a new meeting location. And 2) Financially, we are unable to continue. These issues seem to be huge problems to the survival of this particular gathering of believers. And under any other circumstances, they would be. However, at just the right time, God has opened a door that our leadership team – and, most certainly, Jess and I – believe is the best option for the next phase of our church family.
During the 18-month evaluation period that Jess and I have been going through, God began to strengthen a relationship with some good friends that we have known for years. Dave and Kasey Jane have been friends of ours for a while, but during these past months, God has helped us to see that they have a very similar heart to ours for what a church in Washington could look like. Over time, it became clear to the Janes that God was calling them to plant a church in Washington. At that point, we began talking with them about the possibility of fitting the people and resources of LGC together with the vision that God had given them for this new church.
After a lot more prayer, counsel, tough questions, and difficult discussions, it became clear to both sides that somehow God was in this.
At the end of 2012, Dave resigned his position at Riverside Community Church in Peoria in order to begin preparing to launch this brand new church in Washington. That fact, along with the sense in my spirit that the time was right for Jess and me to step down as the pastors of LGC, led us to the discussion with our leadership team of possibly merging LGC with Dave’s new church. Although the details are still being worked out as to what this might look like, I can tell you now that it will truly be a new church with new leadership, a new feel, and a new name in a new location. But I believe with all of my heart that it will very closely reflect the vision that God had put in my heart for LGC and where I’ve been trying to lead us for the past few years.
Dave is scheduled to give the message at LGC this Sunday (January 13th) so all of you can get to know him somewhat. Then later that evening, there will be an informational meeting at Fivepoints in Washington at 6:30 for anyone who might be interested in finding out more about the church. I encourage everyone from LGC to come with an open mind and open heart to see what God might show you about your place in the new church. I know my family and I will be there.
I am very excited about the future! God has great things in store for His people. Let’s prayerfully and expectantly look to God in this season of transition.
Humbly, your brother in Christ,