June 24, 2015
Bishop Stewart: I want to let you know about a leadership transition in our parish. Our associate rector, Fr. Kevin, has accepted a senior leadership position in the ministry of Christianity Today, so he will be stepping off of Resurrection staff.
If you're like me, when you hear this, you may feel stunned, and then sad. You'll probably wonder, "What's next?" I want to help you through that process, beginning with this letter, and continuing at our parish meeting this Sunday, June 28, at 1:00 PM in the sanctuary.
First, let me say what is not changing:
This decision has come from an empathetic, relational process between Kevin and me over the past 10 months, and Karen, Katherine, and I feel this is the right move for Kevin. The journey began last summer, during our Sabbath year, when we were praying for greater clarity about our church, including our specific roles as leaders. What became clear to me, after my first year of serving as bishop, is that God is calling me to lead "a revival of Word and Sacrament, infused by the Holy Spirit." To do that, I must lead organically and relationally from and through Resurrection, where I can help raise up leaders and lead the church in modeling the ministry of the Holy Spirit, church planting, and evangelism.
At the same time, Kevin came to me with his own growing clarity about his call. I've asked Kevin to share his journey:
Fr. Kevin: Last summer, as I looked toward turning 55, I realized, "I'm going into the final third of my active years of service and ministry—the third period of the hockey game." I prayed, "Lord, what are you calling me to do in this period?" I came back to the same calling I have had for 35 years: "to build the church through teaching and leading." Stewart has given me expansive opportunity to teach; it's rare for a second-chair leader to preach as much as I do. But in a second-chair role, there is less opportunity to do what I hunger to do: to lead a vision, shape a culture, and take on a goal so big, hairy, and audacious that I feel the exhilaration of knowing I could fail.
It was hard for me to admit this hunger for greater leadership to myself; I didn't want it to be selfish ambition. And it was even harder for me to admit this to Stewart, because I knew it could come across as, "I want your job," which is not what I was trying to say. Thank God, we have been friends so long, we could talk openly about this situation.
Usually in churches, an associate pastor will secretly go find a new job, then come and announce that decision without much warning. Instead, the Ruchs and Millers have walked every moment of this decision together, laying out our longings and hopes with each other, not knowing where the process would lead. That has been vulnerable, stretching, and sometime scary, but so worthwhile.
Stewart and I talked about ways I might be able to lead more at Resurrection, perhaps as a provost or dean of the cathedral. But after several conversations, we could not figure out a way that Stewart could lead and influence the cathedral the way he needs to as its bishop, and I could lead and influence as the provost of the cathedral, and it wouldn't be terribly confusing to everyone in the church who was really in charge. We love Resurrection too much to do that.
So for the sake of the health of Resurrection, and with the full knowledge and support of the Ruchs, Karen and I began to explore if we should lead another church within our Anglican Church in North America. After months of searching, no door opened in an Anglican church, but the door that swung wide open was at Christianity Today, where I worked for 25 years. I was invited to serve as Executive Director of Ministry Advancement, helping to strengthen CT's ministry to pastors, which is dear to my heart, and to speak on behalf of CT at gatherings around the country. I start there on July 20.
This call has been separately confirmed by several wise, trusted friends. They have said, "You are being called for such a time as this," to be a prophetic voice and leader in the evangelical church. I feel simultaneously excited for this calling and sad I will not be able to be present with all of you during the week, as I have been. I also feel relief that I can still be at Rez and preach here (not moving to a church in another state!). Finally, I feel deeply thankful that through the process the Ruchs and Millers became even closer. As one friend told me, "That's nothing short of a miracle."
Bishop Stewart: In this letter, I also want to begin to answer "What's next for Resurrection?" The vestry and senior pastoral staff and I have already determined the following:
I recognize you will have other questions, and so Kevin and I have tried to answer some of those in a section below.
I believe that following this Year of Sabbath, this is a time of Holy Spirit-led change as we move into our next season of ministry. During the Sabbath Year, we've gotten clear on our leadership roles. We've also gotten clear on the Lord's vision for Resurrection. I am eager to share with all of you this fall the fresh, new vision that our leaders and I have prayed through.
I look forward to talking more with you at our parish meeting on June 28.
Bishop Stewart and Father Kevin
Stewart: "It's always good to ask that question. But these transitions are not a sign of failure, they are a sign of success. We are committed to being a sending church--so committed we are willing to send some of our strongest leaders. Father Keith and Deacon Trevor were both sent out to lead churches as part of our vision to equip for transformation and plant for revival. Similarly, Father Kevin is being sent to the wider evangelical church as a prophetic voice who understands the local church. In all three cases, Rez developed them as leaders to the point where they were ready to take on expanded leadership."
Stewart: "I have never felt so connected to Rez or felt more passion and vision for her than I do now. So I will continue to serve as both bishop and rector, leading the diocese from and through Resurrection, bringing the relational integration we need for this season of our ministry. To do that, I am talking with Katherine, Resurrection leaders, and the diocesan deans about ways to reduce significantly my international travel, reduce the number of ACNA national committees on which I serve, and reduce the number of invitations I accept to preach at other diocesan synods."
Stewart: "Feel free to contact me through my executive assistant (email@example.com) or our Vestry senior warden, Andrew Merrick (firstname.lastname@example.org). There will be also an opportunity to ask both of us direct questions during the parish meeting on the 28th."
Listen to a recording of the Parish meeting on June 28th here.