In a recent study of Proverbs, I was reminded of this verse:
“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”Proverbs 16:9 (New Living Translation)
God is currently revealing this truth to us in a fresh way, as Liz and I transition to a new phase in our ministry together. We are on the same mission, but God is calling us in a new direction.
Earlier this year, just before the pandemic outbreak in this country, I received a random email about a church in Florida that was looking for a Senior Pastor. Maybe it was a cold day in our barely-Spring season, but, for whatever reason, I clicked on the link. I was immediately attracted to the church’s mission statement: Loving Christ, Sharing His Grace, Serving All. This simple and profound statement resonated with deep, inner convictions. For the last few years, I have been rediscovering “grace” as God’s provision for the troubled and divided world in which we live.
As I explored the church’s website and their Senior Pastor job description, it seemed that God had shaped my life in many ways that fit the vision they described. Wondering whether the LORD might be working through this “random” virtual encounter, I found my old resume, brushed it up, and threw my hat in the ring.
To make a long story short, God was at work, because my reply initiated a series of conversations with some wonderful people. These conversations have now led us to an important transition point. A couple weeks ago, the church voted to call to me to serve as their Senior Pastor, and I am delighted, humbled, and honored to accept this call. Beginning November 1, I will begin my new role as Senior Pastor of Roser Memorial Community Church in Anna Maria, Florida. I will preach my inaugural sermon there the following Sunday, on November 8.
Liz and I are responding to this call because we firmly believe it is God’s will for us. As we engaged with the people of Roser over the last several months, we quickly fell in love with them – their commitment to our LORD, their church, and their community. They are already living out their mission, and our gifts seem to fit well into their God-inspired vision for ministry.
In many ways, Bethany has prepared us for this moment. When Bethany Church called me to be a pastor in February 2008, I could not have been happier. God had initially called me to full time ministry when I was still a teenager, and, at last, He had deemed me ready to receive that sacred calling. It was literally a dream come true. Now, some 12 years later, I have grown even more passionate about serving God, His Word, and His people. It is hard to believe that He is now leading me onward into a new ministry adventure, partnering with another church family who are just as passionate about serving their Lord and their community.
The Roser team was just as excited, probably even more excited, to have Liz join their ministry family. Her gifts for connecting with people and reaching into the community were immediately apparent. She received as many questions about ministry as I did during our various interviews together. Some even wanted her to be Senior Pastor! As we move forward, Liz will become a modified “snowbird.” She will continue to own and operate her store in Portsmouth and her online store (https://lizology.com). She will remain on the Seacoast during its busy season, and rejoin me in Florida during the busy winter season. She will be a busy person!
Words cannot express how grateful we are for our 27 years with the people of Bethany, and for the last 12 years as their pastor. You groomed me from the rough PhD grad who arrived in July 1993, into the slightly less rough minister I have become. You have been our spiritual family through many challenges and celebrations. The experiences we have shared together have prepared us for the challenges that lie ahead. You have prepared us to accept this new calling. We are not “leaving” Bethany; we are simply moving into a new assignment in God’s work.
As we move forward to accept this calling, we will be praying for Bethany, and I ask you to be praying for the people of Roser. God will grow both churches as He engages both communities in His will. On October 18, I will be present at the outdoor service scheduled at Bethany’s Greenland Campus to express my gratitude to as many of you as possible. I will be relocating to Florida the first week of November and will begin preaching there on Nov 8, 2020. (Roser has a YouTube channel, if you want to check us out remotely.) Liz plans to remain in the area through Christmas and will join me in Florida early in the New Year.
As this transition occurs, I will post regular updates on my blog: dirkscorner.com. You can follow my updates by email or on social media. And, I am sure I will be back to visit again in the new year … after the snow melts!
In His Service,