The video above is the announcement Mark Mitchell shared with the congregation on Sunday about recent staff layoffs due to budget constraints, followed by remarks from Joshua Harris. Below is the text of Mark’s remarks.
Two days ago I sent a letter to the church as a follow up on our budget situation and the need to layoff two pastors. I indicated in the letter that with great sadness, the two pastors who have been laid off are Joe Lee and Isaac Hydoski.
It’s very possible that some of you are hearing this for the first time. If so, I regret that this has to be the case this morning. I know how difficult it has been for many to receive this news before now so I can only imagine the challenge if you’re hearing this for the first time.
This is sad news for all of us. These men are beloved pastors, friends, and co-laborers who have served this church faithfully for over a decade. We’re very saddened to see them go. When Josh and I met with each of them to give them the news, it was by far the hardest thing I’ve had to prepare for and do since becoming the Executive Pastor.
Their last day on staff will be January 15. Because Isaac and Joe have served for 12 years, they will each receive 12 weeks of severance pay according to our policy. In the meantime, we’re discussing as pastors how to best redistribute their responsibilities among the remaining staff.
These are godly men and as such they’ve received this news with faith in the Lord, but there is also an understandable measure of sadness because they love this church so much and have loved serving as pastors. Please pray for them, their wives, and their children during this difficult time. Pray that the Lord would comfort and strengthen them and make clear what their next steps should be. And as you see them, please don’t hesitate to encourage them and express your love.
Some of you have written me directly to tell me how difficult this is for you. I’m especially sympathetic for those in our singles ministry who just recently had to say goodbye to Braden and now are faced with Isaac’s departure as well. I know this has to be particularly painful for you. There is a ONE meeting already on the schedule for Saturday, Dec 13th. We’ll take time during this meeting to talk with you and hear from you about these decisions.
We love these men and their families and want to do our very best to show that during their remaining time on staff here. And we love you and understand how difficult this is for you as well. I want to encourage us with these words from Lamentations 3:
my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the LORD.”
Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.
… the Lord will not
cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not afflict from his heart
or grieve the children of men.
Please join me as I take a moment now to pray.
(Mark prayed for Joe, Isaac and their families, for all those saddened by the news, and for clear guidance and strength from the Lord as Joe and Isaac make plans for the future.)
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June 29 2014 at 4:01 pm 0 Comments
Update, July 19, 2014: All five Leadership Team updates have been given now. Please see the links below to review them.
Over five consecutive Sundays in June and July, the pastors who oversee each of our Leadership Teams will briefly share their vision and ministry goals, and we’ll take time to pray for the work of their teams. This is an opportunity to hear how we’re seeking to advance our church’s mission this year in five key ministry areas.
None of the ministry areas are new to our church. What is new is that the responsibility to develop and execute a multi-year strategy for these ministry areas has been consolidated under the five Leadership Teams.
As the Sundays go by, we will post recaps of the leaders’ remarks here on the church blog and link to them below.
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March 17 2014 at 8:03 pm 2 Comments
Church members: If you’re tracking your e-mail and this blog, you’ve seen some recent communication from me about the pastors retreat (see blog posts one, two and three). It was a fruitful time where the Lord met us and refreshed us. Thank you for praying!
One of our activities was evaluating the many recommendations we received for Non Staff Elders. As I shared earlier on this blog and in church this past Sunday, members of the congregation submitted 82 recommendations all told, and of those, 29 men, for a variety of reasons, asked not to continue in the process. That left 53 names for us to consider in light of the biblical qualifications, and we have invited 23 men to continue with the process.
We have already met with most of the 23 men and their wives and talked about the next steps of evaluation and training. They will let us know shortly whether they have decided to proceed or not.
As a pastoral team, we wanted to let you know we are not planning to publish the names of the 23 candidates at this time, as they are still deciding whether or not to pursue the process. Our heart is for them to be able to wait on the Lord without the pressure that might come from a lot of people inquiring. At the same time, we have encouraged the candidates to make their own decisions about whom to keep informed, whether they decide to continue or drop out of the process.
I want to invite you to pray for these men and their wives as they put this decision before the Lord. Please pray for God’s guidance and wisdom in this moment that is very important for their lives and for Covenant Life Church. We are grateful for God’s grace, goodness and help as we take these next steps to identify the men he is calling as shepherds for this flock!
The candidates who decide to pursue eldership will spend the next several months in the personal evaluation and training process. Then in August and September we will present them to you for your input, consideration, and affirmation.
Thank you again for your prayers and active participation!
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March 12 2014 at 3:02 pm 0 Comments
We devoted Day 2 of our retreat to discussing the contents of a paper that was the combined work of Don DeVries, Kenneth Maresco, Kevin Rogers and Ben Wikner regarding the role and responsibilities of pastors. These men studied a number of Scriptures, read about a dozen books, and contacted several churches that we wanted to learn from.
Why invest time in this study? We’ve made it a priority because the nature of pastoral ministry—how we define the role and responsibilities of elders—has been central in many of our conversations with members over the last several years. We’ve received a lot of questions and criticism centered on this topic. So we wanted to examine Scripture (like the Bereans in Acts 17:11) to refresh our understanding and reset our vision regarding pastoral ministry in the church.
I am happy to report it’s been a very worthwhile and fruitful process. As a result of the paper and much prayer and discussion, we were able to articulate several themes that we plan to share more about in the months ahead:
We want to:
• Articulate and teach a definition of pastoral ministry that is biblically sound and succinct enough for us all to grasp and remember.
• Teach the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and see its effect grow in our life and practice as a church. This doctrine affirms that each and every member of the body of Christ has the privilege of direct access to the Father through our High Priest Jesus Christ, and that every part of the body is called, gifted and needed for the good of the whole.
• Develop a multi-faceted approach to caring for members that includes care group participation, direct pastoral care for those in spiritual need, biblical and theological classes, counseling resources and ministries, training and equipping of care group leaders, and partnership with outside counseling agencies.
Again, there’s much work and discussion to move forward on these topics—and it all represents a great opportunity to equip the saints of Covenant Life for the work of the ministry!
Grace to you,
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February 27 2014 at 3:55 pm 0 Comments
In case you weren’t able to make it, here’s the full video of our brief Members Meeting held on Sunday, February 23.
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February 18 2014 at 1:53 pm 0 Comments
Thank you for praying and participating as our church walks through the process of nominating and choosing non-staff elders. We have received a large number of nominations, and it is clear from the supporting comments that members have taken the charge to nominate biblically qualified men very seriously.
As the nomination process has progressed, we have grown freshly aware of the grace of God on our church. God has indeed placed many biblically mature men in our midst who have selflessly served our congregation in many ways for a very long time. It is a great testimony to the kindness of God that we have many such men rather than too few!
The pastors will review the nominations on our retreat scheduled for February 25-28 and prayerfully select the men who seem at this time to be most qualified based on the relevant biblical passages (see our elder profile). We will also consider whether each man has demonstrated firm support for, and willingness and ability to teach, Covenant Life Church’s Statement of Faith. In addition we will be looking for men who share the vision and mission of Covenant Life Church, and who possess a history of fruitfulness in shepherding God’s people.
It is important to note that this is the only time non-staff elders will be chosen solely by the full-time pastoral staff. Hereafter, non-staff elders will be chosen by both the full-time pastors and the non-staff elders affirmed by the congregation.
Please pray that the Lord will lead the pastoral staff as we undertake the selection of this first group of non-staff elders. We want to proceed with sober judgment and hearts poised to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Thank you again for your prayers and your engagement in these important matters.
On Behalf of the Elders
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