Hopefully you will have heard by now that at the service last Sunday (May 15th), I announced my resignation as the Lead Pastor of Redemption Church. I wanted to follow up the announcement with this letter to reiterate some of the key points, especially for the sake of those who were unable to make it on Sunday and did not hear the announcement in person.
It is with both great sadness, and yet with a confidence of faith that Melissa and I have come to this decision. We have lived in Vancouver for almost 15 years, and have served at Point Grey Community Church, followed by UTown Church (the church we planted out of PGCC at UBC), and now Redemption Church, for the entire time as both volunteers and as staff. This church has been our family, our community, and our workplace for over a third of our lives. Coming to terms with the fact that God is leading us on to something new, and choosing to be obedient to that call, has been the hardest decision of our lives. I mean that quite literally. It was a decision we have made very slowly, after a lot of soul-searching, prayer, discussion, and many tears.
God has done so much in our lives through this church. Over the years we have witnessed people coming to faith in Jesus, and we have seen God bring His healing and life-renewing transformation to so many. I have married some of you; watched you have babies (not literally) - including miracle babies! - and had the joy of dedicating them to God; we have walked into the waters of baptism with you; grieved with you; shared meals with you; heard many confessions of sin and failure, and celebrated many great victories. Lissa and I have prayed with you in sickness and tragedy, and experienced support in our own struggles in return. You have been a family to my children. You have been surrogate uncles and aunties, grandparents, cousins, brothers, sisters, and friends - to Melissa and I, and to Lucy, Ella and Oscar. Thank you so much for all you have given us. It has made the absence of our own biological families much easier to bear.
For Melissa and I, our main concern in life has been to do the will of God: wherever that takes us. For the last 15 years that has meant living and serving God in Vancouver, and it has been our great privilege to do so. We truly mean that. The decision to move on is not about this church, and if it were entirely up to us we would not be choosing to leave! And yet, we know that this is the leading of the Holy Spirit.
How do we know this? We didn’t receive a word from out of heaven, or an audible voice, or even some kind of obvious physical sign. But after many months of prayer, wrestling with God and with our emotions, and through discussion and discernment with the Board and Elders, this inkling of a thought - that our time in Vancouver is coming to an end - has steadily grown louder and louder in our hearts and minds. It was a thought accompanied at times by a great deal of confusion and doubt and even fear, but the more we prayed about it and discussed it, the more those things fell away. What remained was a kernel of quiet confidence that this was God’s purpose, and we could trust him for what lies ahead. We have faith and peace that this is the right decision. And I mean that for both my family and the church family. Whatever God has in mind for us all in the future, it will be good - He knows what He is doing with us and we do not need to be afraid.
This decision was not motivated by division or by conflict between myself and the Elders and Board. On the contrary, they have been wonderfully supportive and patient, gracious and encouraging, as Melissa and I have wrestled through this decision with them. A pastor could not ask for a better team of leaders, and I know the church will continue to be lead well, even during this time of pastoral transition. Likewise with the staff, who have been aware of this news for less than a week (at the time of writing this letter), yet in the midst of sadness, they have been incredibly supportive and confident that God will work all things together for good, for all of us. That’s not to say it won’t be difficult - it will - but God is with us, His Spirit is with us. We can trust Him.
That is why I have faith for the future, because I know the character of God. Our Father in heaven is the God who keeps His promises; the God who is with us to the very end; the God who is not surprised by the changing winds of human experience; He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last; the Resurrection and the Life; the Creator of all things! In Him we live and move and have our being. He will lead us in accordance with His will, because He is faithful and He is good.
God has done so much in us and through this church in the last 15 years, and it will continue! Of course, this is not a perfect church but it has been a loving, gracious, faithful, adventurous, creative, and generous one. And what more could one ask for, really? And I have not been a perfect leader! Yet, as I look back over the last 15 years I have been leading here in one way or another, sure, there are many things I would do differently, but I would do it all over again in a heart-beat.
Friends, thank you for being part of this wonderful community. Melissa and I are going to miss you all immensely. As Reid said on Sunday, the church has been through these transitions before, and has come out the other side stronger. This is not a time to pull back and wait to see what will happen, but a time to lean in together and continue to support and pray for the great future that is ahead for Redemption Church. A process is currently being put in place to search and call a new Pastor. We have support and expertise available to us from the PAOC district office. Our District Superintendent, Ken Russell, has personally expressed to us that he will do everything he can to ensure that we transition through this well and in strength. Ken has been a wonderful support to our church over the years and I know he means what he says. Also, the amazing team of people that oversee this church: the Elders, the Staff, and the Board, will be making sure that the church is lead well during this transition. You are in good hands.
Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have any questions. There will be opportunity for a Q&A coming up soon. Stay tuned for the details.
Thank you for being such a wonderful church, and a loving family to us over the years.