Newport Covenant – A Time of Transition
By Barbara Moffat, Chair of the Newport Covenant Church Pastoral Search Committee
It is a situation no church ever desires: the resignation of a Lead Pastor. Yet it is that singular situation that was instrumental in our learning to be completely reliant upon God’s leading. We have learned that when God moves, sometimes He moves boldly, and all you can do is hang on for the ride. We have also learned that sometimes God’s direction is found only through waiting and praying. The last year and a half has been a time of transition for Newport Covenant – and He has been with us every step of the way.
There was little warning that our pastor would resign; however, over a very short period of time, things were brought to light that had to be addressed. We turned to both the PacNWC and the ECC Denomination for help. They have walked alongside us and been available for the millions of questions that came along with ‘what do we do now’? The resources that were available to us were amazing. We didn’t need to recreate anything – all we had to do was ask and rely on the help that was right there. In short order, we hired an interim lead pastor, formed a search committee, and began working ‘the process’. We created a church profile (and video!), advertised on CovConnect, shortlisted candidates, performed screening interviews, brought in candidates for formal interviews, held a candidating weekend, and offered a call. And then we waited.
In the meantime, as a church we were learning to acknowledge, confront and address many years of wrongdoing and hurtful actions. Our interim lead pastor, Rick Mylander, was instrumental in reaching out to as many people as possible to help both them, and us as a church, begin to transition into a new way of living and relating to each other. This culminated in a service of Reconciliation and Hope which included an apology read by the Church Chair and Vice Chair naming and owning each and every painful act we could remember. The service took us through a process of Understanding Reconciliation, Understanding Forgiveness, and Understanding Peace, and included a responsive confession and a time where people could come forward to one of three stations in the sanctuary to name their individual hurt and receive pastoral anointing and prayer. The service was not meant to ignore or minimize continued pain, but to be a point from which each individual could move forward in their healing process.
One of the greatest things we have learned during this time of transition is to wait upon the Lord. Although we were confident in knowing who God intended to have for our next Lead Pastor, it was not immediately evident to our candidate! Pastor David Beck was quite content with his current Call in Sacramento, CA, and was not looking for a new placement. In many ways, this new Call is downright inconvenient. But, he was open to being where God wanted him: one step at a time, listening, praying, and being willing, seeking guidance, fasting, more prayer, and finally, embracing the Call.
Excitement is now building as we look toward Pastor David beginning at Newport on January 2, 2018 (with his first Sunday and a service of installation on January 7th). A new year, a new pastor, a new ministry, a fresh start! Even during a short one-month sabbatical in December, Pastor David has already started the process of reaching out and beginning to integrate himself into our lives and ministry. Although we know that our true time of transition is about to begin, we will rely upon the lessons we have learned to-date about trusting Him and allowing God to direct our steps.
Are we ready for our new pastor? Are we ready to lay down our own wants and desires and allow Him to continue leading us? Are we ready to continue the process of being conformed into His image? God willing, yes, because in the end, it must always – and only – be about Him.
“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.” (Ps 130:5)