For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…
On Sunday June 29 I announced that I would be presented as the candidate for the position of Senior Pastor at Central Wesleyan Church in Holland, Michigan. That day I asked South Tampa Fellowship to join me in prayer for the intervening time. The simultaneous announcement we made was a new experience for many but was done out of respect for two wonderful churches.
It is with very mixed emotions that I announce that the congregation of Central today, Sunday July 13, affirmed that call. Mixed emotions because the call that joyfully awaits Wibke and I comes hand in hand with the pain of soon having to say farewell to an incredible church family.
I am not usually lost for words but I am here. I spent some time reflecting upon Acts 20 this weekend. In that passage Paul said goodbye believing that he would never see the Ephesian elders again. I smiled at that because I’m fairly sure that we will see our Tampa friends again – probably in January when we seek a break from the cold! In other words this is a farewell, not a goodbye.
In addition to letting you all know what happened today, there are a number of people I want to publicly acknowledge.
First, I want to that the family of faith that is South Tampa Fellowship. This church family has supported me so wonderfully through many ups and downs. Since our family arrived in Tampa seven years ago you have loved us as one of your own. At no point did you ever make us feel like outsiders. You were patient with me as I adapted to American life and showered me with love and grace. What a wonderful church family you were and are! I will miss you!
Second, to the staff who have walked with me through thick and thin I say a BIG, “Thank You!” You are one awesome team of incredible godly people. You have followed my crazy ideas and believed in what we were and are doing. I love that you are still committed to seeing that vision through. God has called me on but I move in the knowledge that God is going to do GREATER things through you. I urge you to trust Him in this season of transition. If we did anything right over the last few years it was making sure that our focus was not on a man but on the God-man, Jesus Christ. I may be moving on, but Jesus Christ is certainly not! Greater things are yet to come for Christ through all of you. Keep pressing on!
Third, I owe deepest respect and gratitude to my team of pastors. I want you to know that I will miss you. You have accepted me, loved me and loved on me in incredible ways. The depth of our fellowship is rooted in the depth of your commitment to following God’s will for His church. Thank you for allowing me to be your friend not just your boss. Thank you for daring to dream crazy, generous dreams and for being willing to see God do something new at South Tampa Fellowship. I love all of you and will miss your friendship and fellowship.
Finally, I am so thankful to God for the weekend that we have experienced here in Holland. God has been so gracious and the church family has received Wibke and I with open arms in an incredible display of support and love.
The coming weeks will be filled with lots of transition planning but Pastor Todd and Pastor Eric, together with the other pastors and personnel team have everything firmly under control. It makes me exceedingly glad to say that South Tampa Fellowship will not miss a beat.
I will remain on staff at South Tampa Fellowship until August 15 with my last Sunday being Sunday August 10. This coming Sunday I begin my final STF series at our Ballast Point Campus entitled, Transitions. Please join us if you can. I’m praying that the next few weeks will be filled with a sense of God’s presence guiding and affirming the South Tampa Fellowship family.
My prayer for you all is from Number 6:24-26:
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
I love you all and thank you for the privilege of allowing me to serve you.