Coffee, Conversation, and a Name!
A few days ago, I met with Terry Taber at the Starbucks on Long Pond Road. Earlier in the day, he had asked if we could get together, as he wanted to update me on the search for a new lead pastor for Pearce. Somehow a local Starbucks struck me as a fit setting for our conversation!
I confess that I drove to the appointment with a bit of anxiety. After all, I care deeply about this community of faith and have been praying, as you have, that the Lord would provide the right individual to lead Pearce.
As Terry shared with me the name of my successor, I immediately felt a sense of peace. I have known this individual for more than thirty years, and know him to be a godly and gifted servant of the Kingdom.
His name is Dr. Roger Haskins, an ordained elder in the Genesis Conference of the Free Methodist Church. That name, I am confident, will be familiar to many of you.
For one thing, Pastor Haskins grew up in our area and is a graduate of nearby Byron-Bergen High School. Also, he is a Roberts graduate, having majored in religion and philosophy right next door to Pearce. And, oh, he served as a bishop of our denomination from 2000 to 2007! To add one more connection point, Pastor Haskins has served as the founding pastor of Eastside Church in Fairport for the past five years. As you can see, he is no stranger to our community and comes with a wealth of pastoral experience.
I had the opportunity to serve on a conference task force with Roger a couple of years ago. It provided a wonderful opportunity to become better acquainted with this gracious man. Although I have always respected him, my estimation of him grew even stronger as we worked beside each other on the task force.
Regarding the search process, Superintendent Braman noted: “The hand of the Lord was evident in our process. While the search was nationwide, with many good candidates, in the end it was the Spirit of the Lord that led us to call Roger. The process was marked by great unity and clarity. Thank you to all who prayed!”
I am sure that you will be blessed by having Pastor Haskins as your new lead pastor. It is a privilege for me to introduce him and to commend him to you.
A Note from Pastor Haskins
I asked Pastor Haskins to write a brief note to the Pearce family. Here’s what he sent me:
To the Pearce Family,
It is an undeserved privilege to be invited to serve as your pastor. Ellen and I are especially grateful for the friendship and support already generously and graciously offered by Pastor Wally and Mary as we come home to the west side.
Even though this call to serve as your pastor comes to us unexpectedly, Ellen and I are now eager to begin with a clear sense of God’s calling. We welcome your prayers and friendship as our new church family. We confidently trust in our God of unfailing love and His faithfulness as we enter into this new chapter of life and ministry with you all.
Roger and Ellen
Our Journey Reaches a Milestone (Photo of Jim Morton)
I thought you’d appreciate this note from Jim Morton, the Chair of our Board at Pearce:
It has been a while since I stood in front of you in January and announced Pastor Wally’s intention to retire. That kicked off a journey that entailed focus groups, a survey, compiling a Pastoral Profile, a society meeting, and the search for a new lead pastor for Pearce. A lot has transpired and I am happy to announce that the Official Board of Pearce has accepted the recommendation of the Ministerial Appointments Committee to appoint Dr. Roger Haskins as the next lead pastor.
I am pleased by how the Holy Spirit has guided this process and the many affirmations of this decision in recent weeks. The Board has felt a real peace and assurance that the Lord is in this decision. Roger is an extremely gifted, experienced, and dedicated man of God, with a passion to lead people to Jesus. We are excited to have him coming to lead Pearce.
After much discussion with the superintendent, Pastor Wally, Pastor Roger, and the Board, we have decided to make this transition effective in September. That is sooner than Pastor Wally’s stated intention. As I expressed throughout the process, I did not know the Lord’s timing, but now it is upon us!
Pastor Wally has been extremely gracious in working through ideas, always conscious of what is best for Pearce. I am grateful for his heart. As a result, we have more milestones ahead. A retirement party. A passing of the torch. A welcome party.
Stay tuned as we continue to communicate going forward. Continue to pray and praise God for all He is doing and will do at Pearce.
From the Chair of Pearce’s Personnel Committee (Photo of Terry Taber)
Along with Jim Morton, Terry Taber played a key role over the past few months as the Chair of Pearce’s Personnel Committee. I am grateful for his gracious leadership and am pleased to include his observations on the transition. Here’s what Terry sent me:
A few months ago, we learned that 2017 would be a time of change, a time of transition, and a time to celebrate the ministry of Pastor Wally over four decades including his 10 years at Pearce. Today, as the news of our new lead pastor, Roger Haskins, becomes public; let us take a moment to lift a prayer of thanksgiving to our Lord for Pastor Wally & Mary, who have blessed us in so many ways, and to Pastor Roger & Ellen as we welcome them to Pearce in a few short weeks.
There have been multiple parts of this search process for a lead pastor. Thank you to everyone who participated in focus groups, town hall meetings, or offered input to the Board in other ways. I felt it was very helpful, as we moved through the course of the search, to have those insights about Pearce and your prayers for Pearce.
As Jim Morton noted in his comments, Pastor Wally has been gracious, encouraging, and supportive throughout the search process and the decision process – including the timing of the transition. His heart has always been that of a servant and what is best for Pearce. Thank you, Pastor Wally. We will celebrate with you and Mary in a few weeks, but our hearts will be filled with both joy and sadness.
As we look forward to Pastor Roger leading Pearce, I want to affirm what Jim shared: “The Board has felt a real peace and assurance that the Lord is in this decision.” There have been several moments when that has been revealed through the Holy Spirit. Praise God. I heartily welcome Pastor Roger and Ellen, and look forward to Roger’s ministry and the journey our Lord has in store for His church at Pearce.
Before closing, I also give thanks for Superintendent Pam Braman. I have appreciated her leadership and prayers for this search process and our upcoming transition.
We have felt your prayer support for this task and decision; continue to pray for this upcoming change, praising God for what He is doing and for the Holy Spirit to ignite our church for His kingdom and His glory. In the power and glory of the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
A Transition Timeline
So, both Jim’s and Terry’s notes mention the timeline and address the question of “When is all of this taking place?”
Pastor Haskins will celebrate his inaugural weekend at Pearce on September 23 & 24. I hope you’ll plan to be in attendance that weekend to help welcome him to our congregation. You’ll enjoy getting to know him and will quickly, I am confident, grow to love him as your pastor.
This means my last weekend will be the previous one, September 16 & 17. I’ll look forward to that weekend and the opportunity for Mary and me to express our sincere thanks and appreciation for the wonderful years of ministry we’ve enjoyed here. I will also savor the privilege of baptizing five-month-old Lucas Vaché, Dillon and Allison’s second son, in the Sunday service that weekend. It seems quite fitting to me, that on my final day of full-time pastoral ministry, I’ll enjoy the opportunity to welcome another child into the family of God!
I hope you’ll join us for that special time!
Pastor Haskins has graciously agreed to be present in our worship services the weekend of September 9 & 10 for a time to introduce him to Pearce and to symbolically “pass the baton” of pastoral leadership.
There are two Pearce weddings that I’ll be officiating following my departure. On Saturday, September 23, I’ll officiate at the wedding of Brianna Hunt; and on Sunday, October 15, I’ll preside over the union of Andy Lawrence and his bride. (Once those commitments are concluded, any future weddings at Pearce will be conducted by Pastor Haskins or a member of his pastoral team.)
Let me assure you that, though I will no longer be your pastor after September 17, we will continue to be brothers and sisters in Christ. Pearce will be in Mary’s and my prayers, as you enter this exciting new time in our congregation’s commitment to “engage our time in God’s timeless Story!”
Why the Earlier Transition Date?
A few of you may be asking, “Why is the transition happening three months prior to the date originally announced?” Good question! Jim addresses that in his note, but let me share a bit more from my perspective.
When I announced in January that I would retire on December 31, 2017, I did so to provide sufficient time for the denominational leaders and the Pearce Board to conduct a thorough search. (If you have been a member in our denomination for a long time, you may recall when pastoral changes were decided during the brief days of Annual Conference!) Also, as I had come to Pearce in January of 2007, it seemed fitting to depart near to my anniversary date as your lead pastor. Finally, I also told you how much I love the Christmas season and that I wanted to linger with you through the holy moments of one more Christmas Eve service. Each of those factors influenced my selection of the December 31 timeline.
However, as the search progressed, it became apparent that a well-qualified individual was available this fall to assume the leadership of Pearce. Our conference superintendent, Pam Braman; Pearce’s Official Board; and both Roger and I sensed that a fall transition would benefit the congregation as all of you embraced new pastoral leadership. By having Pastor Haskins and his wife arrive in September, they can move through the significant fall months with the Pearce family.
As I have met with our superintendent and members of Pearce’s Official Board, I have sensed God’s hand in all of this – including the timing of the transition. Mary and I are confident that the Holy Spirit has been at work, and we celebrate the peace we have felt as a result.
A New Series Launches this Weekend (Photo of Richard Snyder)
I’m quite excited about the start of our new series of messages this weekend. Bishop Emeritus Richard Snyder will be our guest preacher and launch a five-week-series, “What Does Jesus Say to My Generation?” Bishop Snyder is a wonderful and gracious leader, having served as our bishop for many years until his retirement in 2007. This is also a bit of a “homecoming” for him, as he was an associate pastor on staff at Pearce in 1972-73.
Bishop Snyder will address the question “What would Jesus say to the Silent Generation?” The “Silent Generation” includes those born in the years between the mid-1920s to 1946. The terminology “silent” has been applied to this generation to reflect that these individuals were encouraged to conform to social norms. (The term “Silent Generation” was coined in a Time magazine article published on November 5, 1951.)
I’m grateful for Bishop Snyder’s gracious acceptance of my invitation to come and speak to us here at Pearce. His message is one you won’t want to miss!
Thanks for Your Prayers (photo of my siblings)
In last week’s Dangling, I shared with you the plan for my siblings and their spouses to gather for a weekend of remembrance in Erie, our hometown. It was a special weekend of sharing stories about our childhood and remembering our mom on the tenth anniversary of her death. Thanks for your prayers as we met from around to country (Arizona, Kentucky, North Carolina, and New York) to laugh, cry, and celebrate our Christian heritage.
(In the photo above, my siblings and I stand in front of our childhood home.)