News of the New
Greeting the new with welcoming arms is not for everyone. Ours is an era similar to the Athens that greeted Paul, a city of “nothing except telling or hearing something new.” (Acts 17.21) Here is the clarion call of every technology company today (and most technology users): newer is better. Welcoming the new is neither my specialty nor my proclivity. And yet, in God’s will the “new” will be a feature of our life together as a church body in 2021.
Tuesday of last week, Pastor Hill shared with me that God has called the Hills to serve a PCA congregation in California. The elders were informed on Wednesday. At the end of the summer, Jeremiah and Madeline will head west to North Bay, San Francisco, where Pastor Hill will become pastor to students at Grace Church of Marin.
As you process this news, let me assure you that, on Jeremiah’s part, the weeks preceding his conversation with me were filled with wisdom, godly discernment, and prayerfulness. Grace Church of Marin posted their need for a pastor through normal channels and, upon Jeremiah’s enquiry, conversations progressed with step-by-step confirmation. Over the past three years I have thanked God for Jeremiah’s wisdom in challenging pastoral matters in the life of our church. I peppered our brother with dozens of questions, partly from a place of pain and uncertainty as he will leave a significant gap on our pastoral team. Here is my assurance: I could not be more pleased by how Jeremiah and Madeline have sought and followed God’s guidance in this matter, with respect towards me, our pastors, and our session (i.e. our board of elders).
The pastors and session of Covenant were neither anticipating nor desiring the ministry transition of our Youth and Young Adult Pastor. This was hard and surprising news for us. However, the hand of God is evidently at work here, and the intention of our leadership is to assist Jeremiah and Madeline and to assist the saints of Grace Church of Marin.
Students were informed at their Wednesday night Midweek gathering. Jeremiah’s heartfelt desire was to avail himself to their questions and help them process the news. As well, Jeremiah’s repeated boast is that our youth ministry would merely hobble along without our parent and non-parent volunteers. These individuals have selflessly cared for our youth and for the Hills, and Jeremiah would like to avail himself especially to them, answering their questions and helping them process.
None of the summer programming for our youth with change. Pastor Hill will continue robust and focused ministry to our students. We can count on preparation and follow-up with the EDGE and RYM events. We are grateful that during the summer our church will have the help of a ministerial intern in youth ministry to help us care of our students.
Please reflect upon the past three years of Jeremiah’s ministry. Both Jeremiah and Madeline arrived at CPC exhausted from an intense season of seminary. With little rest, Jeremiah entered ordination preparation while establishing his ministry at CPC. As if that wasn’t enough, he also coped with the transition of a new senior pastor. Please reflect upon and thank Jeremiah for the ways he has ministered to you and our youth during a season of many transitions.
Also reflect upon this new phase of ministry that God has for Jeremiah and Madeline. Jeremiah has assured our pastors of his delight in serving alongside us these past three years. In a few months, he will be a tremendous gift to the pastoral team at Grace Church and serve alongside them with the same zeal for student care, both within the church and in the local community.
Please pray for our next steps as a congregation. I have already confessed that the “new” is not immediately enticing to me, and yet, as youth ministry is a critical part of care for the covenant family of our church, we will need a new person to replace this role. This was not the plan of our leadership, and there is no underlying strategy apart from the unflinching trust that God is superintending the details of our life together, large and small. Our Personnel Committee is an elder-led committee, made up of elders and deacons, with the task of advising the session on personnel matters. The elders and deacons of this committee need time to discuss and pray, and I would ask you to pray for them even as you pray for Jeremiah and Madeline, and Grace Church of Marin.
~ Pastor John Jones