Message to the Congregation: Matt's Leaving

Good morning UPC. I'm Harvey Spears one of your elders. I'm here this morning on behalf of all UPC's elders.

Matt announced earlier this week that he has accepted a new call to plant a church in the Minneapolis area. If you have seen Matt's announcement video you can tell it was a difficult decision for him and Hana to make. We will dearly miss Matt and Hana and their children. God has called them to a new work, and despite our sadness about losing them, we can send them with joy and thanksgiving because they have been faithful to us and faithful to Christ.

Your mixed feelings are natural, and I and the rest of the elders are right there with you. During a time like this, we need to lean on our great pastor, Jesus. He will never leave us nor forsake us. We can look to the past to see many examples of His faithfulness over the years. The elders are convinced that these circumstances will strengthen us as a church as we rely not on our own strength but the strength of Christ to move us forward. We are also certain that our Lord will supply a senior pastor who will be just right for his plans for UPC.

So what are the elders doing? We are still in the planning stages of our approach, but I can share with you some of our thinking. First off, we will continue ministering as we have been. Matt outlined a new shepherding plan a few weeks ago, and that plan will continue. Steve W. will continue to manage staff. He may pick up a few other duties to help see us through. We will be looking for some interim help, so we are exploring the hiring of an interim senior pastor. This man would preach and go about the normal duties of a senior pastor. Interim pastors are typically retired pastors who will take on short-term assignments.

Matt recently outlined some new ministry director positions. We may delay hiring some of those position given the circumstances. We expect the new senior pastor will want some input into the hires. However, we will actively pursue hiring a new youth director as soon as we are able.

We are developing a communications plan. We want you all to have the latest and greatest information as we move through the process. There will be a page on our web site that will help to facilitate getting answers to your questions. The elders' contact information will be on that page. Please call or email us, we want to be a resource to you.

We have already been in contact with a firm that specializes in pastor placement with churches. This is going to be a process where we will get input from the congregation on the attributes that you feel are important for UPC's next senior pastor. We will be forming a search committee of church members who will work with the search firm.
In the short term, we have the benefit of having two ordained PCA pastors, Jason and Scott, who are able to preach and administer the sacraments.

What can you do? Put your faith and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ. Continue to support UPC as you have done in the past and consider getting more involved. We are in need of volunteers in many ministry areas. Join a community group so you are getting connected with people. We will also be organizing a prayer effort during this time. Pray for wisdom for the elders and search committee. Pray that God would bring a godly and wise man to pastor this church. Pray most of all that we, as a church, will walk with God and glorify Him in all our thoughts, words and deeds.

You may asking yourself how long is all this going to take? It is hard to put a time line on it. The average placement time in the PCA is 1½ years for a senior or lead pastor. Based on conversations with the search firm, they think one year is possible. They are familiar with UPC and think our church would be a desirable call.

As our plans become more definite, we will let you all know. We are grateful for each of you and we are looking forward to seeing God at work as he provides for his people.

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