This past weekend was my last weekend at Sunset Presbyterian Church, our church home for the past 5 years. I’ll share about my next step soon, but today I want to focus on what the past 5 years have meant to me.
I came to Sunset as a college graduate who decided to leave his field of study in order to pursue a future in church ministry. I was about to start my seminary studies and I needed a part time job, so I became a janitor at the church, setting up rooms for events and cleaning the church building. At the same time I started volunteering with the college ministry.
This soon evolved into a new role with the weekend worship team and several years ago I started working with the youth worship team as well. Some have called this story my “rags to riches” story as I went from a janitor to a worship leader and now author, in less than 5 years. And while this is partially true, most of the credit belongs to the people who believed in me and gave me a chance.
A special thanks needs to be given to Jay McKenney who took a major risk in hiring a 23 year-old kid with no paid church ministry experience. Jay believed in me and constantly encouraged me to continue growing as a pastor, leader, and musician. The past 5 years have been me trying to stand on his shoulders.
I’ve worked with incredible co-workers these past 5 years, and will miss my times of interaction with so many of them. Thanks to…Janet Fraser for always calling me an 18 year-old and encouraging me to grow as a leader. Mike Giering for always being someone I could talk with. Jill Hofer for showing me tenderness and leadership can go hand in hand. Jason Wilkinson for always putting relationships first. Kurt Brandemihl for always encouraging me to find the next level. Travis Cibolski for always being willing to serve the church as a whole. And Eric Stearns for never letting a day in the office go by without asking me how I’m doing.
I haven’t even mentioned the incredible group of students and adults who have poured themselves into partnering with me to serve the church. They are the ones who have made the past 5 years incredible.
I have so much confidence about the future of Sunset, though this confidence doesn’t come from Sunset just hiring a new Lead Pastor. I have confidence because of Sunset being full of people who love God, serve diligently, and desire for others to know Him. Sunset is full of people who are a living testimony to the grace and peace offered to us through Christ.
Two things stand out to me most about Sunset:
1) Though it is a Presbyterian church in name, Sunset is welcoming to people of all theological perspectives and strives to remain culturally relevant. As a whole, Sunset has shown me that beliefs disconnected from living are pointless.
2) Not every church has a culture where being a part of the church means you serve in some capacity. Especially in recent years, Sunset has become that kind of church. As I’ve led ministries, holes have developed where I needed new people to step up, and by God’s grace, they always did.
Sunset has been a great home for Rose and I to cut our teeth in church ministry as we began our life together. It’s a bittersweet time for us as we are excited about new beginnings, but we will miss the great relationships we’ve built with so many.
The past few months have been a long grieving process for me, as I’ve processed how much I am leaving behind. But God is taking us to a new place, with new opportunities.
I’ve always liked the line from the movie John Q, “It’s not goodbye. It’s see you later.” That seems fitting.
Check back later this week for another announcement.