Friday, March 30, 2007

News

Okay, I know I've been MIA for quite some time. So be forewarned that this will be the mother of all posts. Now that our families know, I can put this out there in the blogisphere. For those who were wondering, I am not pregnant. Sorry, Brittny. :)

We are moving again! After a lot of discussion and prayer, Gregg decided to resign his position as Minister of Technology at Covenant. He announced that he was resigning on March 15, and almost two weeks later accepted a job at a church in southern Pennsylvania as their Technical Director. They have offered him a nice salary increase from what he was making at CPC, plus medical benefits, a pension and $ for continuing education. We are planning the move for the last week of April, so that Gregg can start on May 1st.

I know, I know, I need to back up and explain how all of this happened.

For those who have been reading this blog over the last several months, you know that we've been experiencing quite a bit of unrest in our church. In the months leading up to and following Pastor Dan's resignation, things began unfolding that made it evident we should think about leaving Covenant Presbyterian Church. Not even one year after moving here, we began coming to grips with the crazy reality that this was not the right place for us spiritually and for Gregg professionally.

As we mulled it over and prayed, it only became more obvious that we needed to move on. We started seeing that people were falling by the wayside and not being ministered to. The program and doctrine/rules of the church had become more important than the people. And the clear message we received from leadership about the problems we saw was that things were "good enough". They also made it clear that whoever would succeed Pastor Dan as Covenant's next senior pastor would just come along and get on board with the "vision" that was already in place- not bring change, not do anything different than the church had done in the last 25 years. Just maintain.

Maintaining was not going to do it for us.

So in February Gregg began sending out his resume to a few churches that he saw advertised on churchstaffing.com. King Street Church in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (of all places) really stood out to both of us, and they wrote back right away and began corresponding with Gregg. Within a month, we were up there to visit and they had an offer by the end of our trip. The area that we'll be moving to is literally a world away from Florida. The community that we presently live in is less than thirty years old, while Chambersburg dates back to the Civil War. King Street Church has been serving the borough of Chambersburg and its 17,000 residents for the past 129 years. But yet it's growing much faster than Covenant which is located in a very modern, rapidly expanding city with a population of 105,000.

So I am excited and bewildered. And freaking out about all the stuff I need to do! Like packing and renting out our house and finding a place to live up there and packing... Do any of you know somebody wanting to rent a cute, newly renovated three bedroom house in Central Florida? :)

Following are a few entries about some of my thoughts on the recent chain of events, which I wrote a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully they'll fill in some of the gaps.

Thursday, March 15-
So many changes in such a short amount of time. I've heard it said before, and I believe, that when God moves He moves quickly. We leave a week from today to visit King Street Church in PA. We're both really looking forward to it. It's funny; most people take their vacations down here where we live, but we're taking ours in a colder climate.

We'll spend five days in Chambersburg, getting to know the church and staff and our way around the area. They're putting us up in a fairly new hotel, which we are thrilled about because that means we get to have privacy. It was just so weird staying at the senior pastor's house when we visited Covenant last year, sleeping in a full size bed that creaked every time you moved. Yeah.

So besides the trip itself, we are looking forward to flying! Gregg and I are such little kids about going on an airplane. We love to fly. It's wildly exciting for some reason I can't fully explain.

We are going to go shopping for some new clothes over the weekend, and check out the place we're planning on having Tess stay for the time we'll be away. We've heard rave reviews about this Doggie Daycare. I hope it really is all its cracked up to be, because we're leaving her there for five whole days. I hope she doesn't come back traumatized. She's initially very afraid of people and other dogs. So I'm nervous. I feel like a parent who's sending her kid off to summer camp. Who knew I'd get so attached to our mangy mutt?

I've gone through a roller coaster of emotions since we first talked about leaving Covenant and pursuing another ministry opportunity. At first I was resolved about the whole thing. If it was God's will for us to move on, then I was fully on board. If He wanted us to stay in Florida, I was just fine with that too. But as it appeared that He was moving us in the direction of leaving, I began to freak out. What the crap are we going to do with our house in this kind of market? How will we leave behind all those volunteers that Gregg invested so much into?

And I had to examine our motives for leaving. Were we just jumping ship because things had gotten too complicated at church? Or was this truly something we felt the Lord calling us to do.

I felt somewhat torn. I was stoked about the prospect of moving close to our parents and siblings, and experiencing the change of seasons again. Still, I cried over the possibility of packing up the first house we owned together and made so many memories in. Over leaving a community and area we had grown to know and thought we would spend many, many years in. Saying good-bye to some great people we'd shared with and gotten to know over the past year.

I spent a lot of time in prayer and asking God for wisdom and discernment. Gregg & I had many discussions about the entire situation, looking at it from every different angle. We came to the conclusion that Covenant is not the right place for us, for several reasons. That doesn't negate the impact Gregg has had on his wonderful volunteers, or the growth we experienced in our marriage here. I thought for a while that if we decided to leave, we were in effect saying that this past year was a waste. It wasn't. God used us and allowed us to thrive in a new place.

But increasingly, Gregg felt that he wasn't the right person for Covenant in the role of Technical Director. His vision has far exceeded that of CPC's, and they remain content with maintaining things just as they stand right now. There was really only one path to choose at that point.

We are excited and overwhelmed at the possibilities that lay before us. The desire to make an impact for the Lord has grown stronger for both of us over the past few weeks, and King Street Church looks like it will be a great fit for Gregg's vision & talents. There is an opening for a Center Director at the crisis pregnancy center located in the same town, which Gregg encouraged me to apply for. That would be such an awesome job! I am truly amazed at the fact that God uses and equips us to serve Him in various ways. We come with nothing, but He supplies it all.

Friday, March 16-
Yesterday morning at the church's staff meeting, Gregg announced that he is resigning. No detailed explanation was given, but if people want to know more they were encouraged to come talk to him. An email went out from the church administrator to the elders and deacons, along with Covenant Christian School staff. Gregg then copied and sent it to all of his volunteers and members of our small group. People were sad, some were really shocked. Most of them understood why he made the decision.

It's hard to put into words what I'm feeling about the whole thing. I can't stand making anyone sad, and this effects so many people. I also don't want to be the next subject of controversy, or fodder for gossip among our congregation. When all that stuff went down with Rock (former youth pastor), all kinds of not-so-nice things were said about him by people who knew very little of what actually happened.

We will for sure elaborate further on the reasons at our small group meeting Tuesday night. I don't know if we'll get barragged with questions on Sunday. I'm not quite prepared for that. I know eventually I'll have to sit down with my boss, since he goes to our church, and try to explain. Knowing that that implies my leaving the position I currently have. I'm not planning on telling him anything until we get back from Pennsylvania, and I don't want him finding out before then. However, these things have a way of making it through the grapevine.

In the past, I have always felt like I need to explain everything whenever I make a decision. But the fact is, I don't. It's our life. People don't have the right to have everything laid out on the table. They will say things about you whether they have all the facts or not. Even if you tell them the whole truth, they will go looking for other stuff that isn't even there and not confront you with any of them. The bottom line is that we have a peace about the decision we've made, and no one else has to live with it but us.

Tuesday, March 20-
So things are pretty much set for our trip up north. I’ve been trying to clean a little every day so that when we come back, the house isn’t a total disaster. I would hate coming home to a messy house. I’ve also been staying on top of the laundry. I folded a few piles on Sunday and finished up the rest last night.

We booked Tess for five nights at the doggie daycare place, which is actually called Paradise Luxury Pet Estates. Try not to laugh or balk too much. When we went there on Saturday to check things out, we felt very comfortable with the staff and accommodations. We already knew we did not want her staying in a kennel being cooped up in a tiny cage for most of the day. And kennels are known famously for making dogs sick.

Doggie daycare seemed like the better choice by a mile- it was reasonably priced for all the amenities and nice enough that a human being would want to stay there for a week! They did want Tess to come for a day to see how she’d get along with the other dogs and staff, before we went away. So Gregg took her yesterday for her “trial period". When he went to pick her up, one of the owners said she was skittish at first but soon started playing with the other dogs. She eventually went over to some of the female staff when they called her, but would not come to any of the male workers. No surprise there- we knew she was afraid of men.

They put her in the "easy going room" to socialize and nap with a few other doggies that have a similar temperament. Gregg said that when he went to pick her up that afternoon, they announced him as "Miss Tess's dad". How cute is that? When he got her home, she was wiped out from all that activity and play time. She didn't move from the couch for several hours, and I had to keep checking on her to make sure she was still breathing!

Sunday we weren't asked a whole bunch of questions as I thought we might be. I got some sympathetic, concerned looks from people and "we'll miss you's". I talked briefly with two couples from our small group about what's going on. But that was it. That night as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, I thought back to the first few days after we moved here. Now, a little more than a year later, things are so different. What the heck happened??

I know God is closing this chapter in our lives. But, I am just stunned at how differently we see things regarding CPC from last March. There had been stuff going on all along behind the scenes which just bubbled up to the surface once Pastor Dan resigned. So much more than I care to write about here. Our fear is that if the church continues to go down the path it's on, it will only alienate and push away more people- the exact opposite of what Dan Hendley intended when he left.

I feel like I should say something, something more than just "Oh, it didn't work out". I don't want to look like I'm dragging the church through the mud, or leaving on bad terms though. I feel like the members of our small group could benefit from our insight, to understand what it is about the church at its present state that makes people like us uproot their lives and leave. Gregg wants to keep things all very vague and not step on any toes. I understand that, but then it looks like we have something to hide. It's not about getting the last word in or about proving some sort of point. And we don't want to dredge up every little stinkin' thing either. I just think we should expose the truth and then leave it up to people to decide for themselves.

So it is with heavy hearts that we seek to move on. Our flight leaves Thursday morning, and like I said, I think we're pretty well set for the trip. We checked the weather report so we know what to pack, the house is in order, the dog is taken care of. It should be fun and a little nerve-wracking too, as we determine if this is truly the place where God wants us.

I am more convinced than ever that life is not a series of mountain tops and valleys, but rather a railroad track where you simultaneously experience both good things and bad things. You just never know the places God will take you.

3 comments:

Erin said...

Oh my goodness....I'm a little speechless right now...although I can't say I'm 100% shocked.

I want you to know how happy I am for you and Gregg that you are moving on to a thriving church (and PA is way closer to NY, so maybe there will be opportunities for visits after all!) and I know that God will bless you for being obedient to Him and in seeking in His will.

I can only imagine how big a step this is and in such a short time, too!! But know that I will be praying for you and Gregg and your new home and church family.

Congratulations Marisa!! I know this will be a great move. :)

Lots of love,
Erin

Cherie said...

Wow Marisa! This is huge. But it sounds as though you guys both have no doubt that God is doing this thing in your life, and so it is going to be good. I'll be praying for you as you get ready to move and then for the transition again - and how awesome would that be if the crisis pregnancy center worked out?!!
Excited for you!

audreybreier said...

Wow! I'm so excited for you and this new phase in your life that you're starting. I was a preacher's daughter all my life, so I know a lot of what you and Gregg have been going through. I'm so excited for you that you've found a place that you feel God has led you to. I know things are going to go great for you there and I can't wait to read all about your new adventures! You and Gregg will be in my prayers!!