church merger – the larger Kingdom

Quest will be taking our formal vote this upcoming Sunday. While some good questions have come from church folks, we are expecting an overwhelming vote in favor of the “merger.”  The “merger” is an amazing story because while two equal churches are coming together, one [Interbay] has chosen to join Quest and dissolve as a formal organization and institution.  Their stories, people, gifts, and such will continue through the ministry at Quest.  

For the next year, we will be retaining all of Interbay’s staff – one pastor and three administrative staff.  Two folks, including their pastor, will join our Elder Board for about one year.  Thereafter, they will be encouraged to undergo the eldership process and continue to serve the larger church in that capacity.  There are always logistical details that can be problematic but problems can always be solved.  Our biggest concern dealt with the possibility of tension and conflict that arises when people come together.  With people, there’s the possibilities of preferences, biases, egos, pride, insecurities, personalities, and [insert whatever thoughts here].

This is why this transition has been so humbling.  Interbay has demonstrated an immense amount of wisdom, humility, and sacrifice for the good of the larger Kingdom.  It has forced me to examine my heart and ask, “Would I be able to do this in a similar situation?”

With permission from Ray Bartel, Interbay’s pastor, I am sharing a letter he wrote to our leadership a week before his church’s final vote on the “merger.” 

Dear friends in Christ,

As we approach a time of prayerful decision for the Interbay Church community on April 15th to unite our two congregations, I would like to take this opportunity to share a few personal thoughts with you.  Let me begin by saying, “Thank you for your friendship in Christ these past five years, for your encouragement and help in ministry, and for your infectious passion in sharing the love of Jesus.” I have been privileged to see how God has grown the ministry of Quest Church and used her in mighty ways to bring “new life.” 

It is my heartfelt hope and prayer that Interbay and Quest will approve the Transition Plan to unite our two congregations under the Quest Church name, constitution, leadership and vision –a bold and exciting step that has been on my heart and in my prayers since Interbay’s 50th anniversary celebration in April 2004. I thank our Lord, and I’m humbled by the thought that He has brought us together “for such a time as this.” From my first meeting in 2001 with a few individuals representing the emerging Quest Church, I’ve been fully persuaded that our coming together was an answer to the prayers of many and has been guided to this exciting day by the Holy Spirit.  

This “merger” is taking place in God’s time and will enrich the ‘new Quest’ and our shared heart’s desire to see the kingdom of God prosper and grow in Seattle for generations to come. God will use our combined gifts, talents and resources to produce a kingdom harvest that is far greater than anything we can imagine “in our wildest dreams” (Eph. 3:20-21, The Message). Interbay Covenant Church was birthed over 60 years ago as a children’s Sunday school outreach of First Covenant Church, Seattle. It was their vision and sacrificial giving that made our rich history in local and global missions possible. And in that same spirit, I hope and pray that Interbay will now choose to give herself to Quest –to future generations. What an amazing gift that will be! –Our rich legacy and heart for local and global missions, the diversity, spiritual depth and life experiences of our people, our material resources and the strategic location of our campus, and our passion and commitment joined in a spirit of unity to your gifts, talents and resources – All to the glory of God!  

The new future and ministry that await me as an associate pastor of Quest Church and a member of the Elder Board excite me. I remain open to the Holy Spirit’s leading and the Elder Board’s direction in shaping my new roles and responsibilities to serve the larger Quest community. It has been a privilege for me to be a colleague in ministry with Pastor Eugene and to see his heart for God, his love for the church and his passion in sharing the love of Jesus with others. I have the highest regard and deepest respect for Pastor Eugene and the vision that God has put on his heart, and I very much look forward to learning from him and supporting him in his call as lead pastor of Quest Church.

In Christ, Ray Bartel, Pastor, Interbay Covenant Church

There is much to be learned here. 

_________________

Relevant posts: Amazing Story, Letter to Interbay, and Transition Plan

6 thoughts on “church merger – the larger Kingdom

  1. As I’ve said many times, this is terribly exciting! There is no other way to describe it. 🙂

    On a side note, I found out this weekend in a chance-run-in with a distant cousin that my old church here in Seattle (Church at the Center) has recently joined with Capitol Hill Presbyterian. What cause for much excitement! 😀 As churches are closing, others are coming together and combining their gifts.

    God wins.

  2. i was amazed to hear this story…what an encouraging witness…just today i was thinking about how many different churches we have in our small town…on the street where our church sits there are 6 churches within a mile radius…i am interested in hearing more as time goes on…

  3. chad: yeah, it’s a cool story very humbling. it was good to connect with you over the last weekend. welcome to seattle and may God bless your ministry up at shoreline.

  4. I was just thinking this afternoon as I was using another church’s office to print out my sermon and our bulletins for tomorrow that it is great that they share their resources like this with us. The thought then went to “what would it be like if instead of sharing stuff like this, two churches came together as one?” The answer i came to was that this would be fairly complex and crazy. Then i read this example and I am quickly humbled. 🙂 I assume that this process has been and will be complex and crazy, but i can only imagine that the Kingdom of God will stronger because of it. May God bless this leap of faith…

  5. I stumbled upon this story from a friend, David Park, here in Atlanta. How cool that the two churches are merging. What an opportunity to bless the world thru combined resources.

    I spent 5 years in Seattle with Wycliffe, and I loved it there. May God continue to bless you as you bless others.

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