“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
I have served for the last 14 years as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA), nine of those years as the pastor of the Memorial Presbyterian Church in Cherokee, IA. Through these years of service I have faithfully proclaimed the Word of God, and have tried to work for Biblical Reformation and Renewal within the larger denomination. Ever since my ordination, though, I have continued to feel a growing division between the clear teaching of Scripture and the decisions and actions of the denomination. I have struggled to maintain faithfulness as one called to be a minister of Word and Sacrament while pledging to further the “peace, unity, and purity of the Church.”
Four years ago, when the denomination’s position on the standards for ordained ministry were changed to allow for the ordination of practicing homosexuals, I began prayerfully studying what my future in ministry would look like. The action regarding a “redefinition of marriage” at the most recent General Assembly further confirmed that it was time for me to look elsewhere.
And so it is with joy that I can share that I have been offered the opportunity to serve as the pastor of Ebeneezer Presbyterian Church in Lennox, SD, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America, which a distinctively Reformed and Presbyterian body with whom I am in agreement in matters of faith and practice.
I have nothing but the greatest respect appreciation for those churches that I have been fortunate to serve these past 14 years. They have taught me what it means to be a pastor – to prayerfully teach and apply the word of God so that all might know Christ and be encouraged and strengthened in their walk with Him.
Over time, I have come to understand that my primary calling is to be faithful to God, and ultimately this move from one denomination to another is my attempt to be faithful. It is a difficult decision because it does mean uprooting my family, taking some risks financially, and stepping out on faith in a new ministry. And yet I know that I can go forward boldly, courageously, because the Lord is with me, and He is my shield and my strength. I go forward knowing that “He who calls me is faithful” (1 Thess 5:24), even when my faith waivers and my doubts rise. I go forward knowing that the One who has brought about such good work in the church so far, He is faithful to complete it.
I thank my congregation here in Cherokee for their support, their prayers, and their encouragement over the years. I want to assure you, I will continue to give thanks to God for you in all my prayers. In the coming months as I prepare to leave, I hope and pray that we can celebrate all that the Lord has done in our ministry together, as we also prepare a strong foundation for the next chapter in your ministry. Keep loving and caring for one another, and remain steadfast in your faithfulness to the Lord
Grace and Peace