by David Holcomb
How do you say good-bye to people you’ve looked forward to seeing every week for fifteen years?
It was just about a year ago that this process started. God had made it clear to Carolyn and I through a variety of experiences, conversations and situations, it was time to move. Leaving Oak Hills would not be easy, it never has been. But if we really believe that God has done something unique here at Oak Hills, then it must be shared, and it seemed that it would be our job to share it. Our purpose when we originally came here in 1995 was to learn how to do ministry, for me to learn how to be a pastor. Fifteen years later it is finally time to see what we’ve learned.
Looking for a ministry position is a goofy process to say the least. The intersection between the sacred and secular, between God-led and people-controlled is nowhere more evident. There is the preparation of résumés and careful selection of references, along with fasting and praying and desperately pleading that God point you in the right direction. That is the process we started last fall. Twelve short months later it seems God has worked through our efforts. This past Tuesday, I officially accepted the position of Lead Pastor at HOPE Christian Fellowship in San Gabriel, CA.
Carolyn and I are very excited about this new adventure. Of all the churches to which we applied, from the beginning, HOPE seemed the best fit. HOPE shares a lot of the values we learned at Oak Hills: Diversity, missional outreach, spiritual formation, community, a desire for a deeper experience of God. It is a fourteen year old church with a Sunday attendance of around 250. A HOPE fun fact is that its building was used in the movie The Father of the Bride. In every interaction with the church, Carolyn and I and the kids have been able to connect and have enjoyed our interactions with them. We have every expectation that we will find deep community here and that God will do great things in this church. The only down side, really, is that we’re far from all of you.
Our family carries a deep sense of gratitude to Oak Hills Church. Everything I know about being a pastor I learned from you. You have been patient with me through every shaky step. You have followed me when I didn’t really know where I was going. You have cleaned up the messes I made. You listened, even when I couldn’t complete … You have cared for us in the darkest times of our life. You have helped raise our children. When I first mentioned to Stevie that I was looking for another church that needed a pastor he said, “Maybe you could just go to another church.” You are irreplaceable in our lives. You are our family. It has truly been an honor — a privilege — to be one of your pastors.
So, how do you say good-bye to family? How do you say good-bye to people so close that they are woven into your DNA? How do you say good-bye to a part of yourself?
God’s speed, dear Oak Hills Church family. We’ll see you soon.
Carolyn’s e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
David’s e-mail: email@example.com