Eugene Cho

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

Filed under: church, emerging church, ministry

6 Responses

  1. Blake says:

    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. chad says:

    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. e cho says:

    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. […] Another update on the story of a merger between an emerging church and an older established one. This gives me hope for the slow and eventual de-fracturing of the Body of Christ… I hope we can all pay attention, that we may be one. I figure if Jesus asked the Father for this, it’s a divine goal toward which we ought to be highly motivated, and to which end there would be plenty of divine blessing available. […]

  5. Todd says:

    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…

  6. Ray Gonzalez says:

    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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One Day’s Wages

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#TamirRice Incredible news: @onedayswages is projecting to have our most impactful year as we grant out $1.3 million dollars! Thank you so much for your prayers and support...please read on to learn how you can join in our work.

As you gather with family, friends, and loved ones for Thanksgiving and the holidays, I wanted to share an opportunity. Often times, when I speak to people about the privilege of generosity, I remind them, "You don't have to but you get to." It's so true.

My wife and I (and our three kids) started ODW in 2009. We felt the Holy Spirit convicting us to give up our year's salary. It wasn't an easy thing to say "Yes" or "Amen" to but we made the decision to obey. As a result, it took us about three years to save, simplify, and sell off things we didn't need.

It's been an incredible journey as we've learned so much about the heart of God and God's love for the hurting and vulnerable around the world - particularly those living in extreme poverty. ODW is a small, scrappy, grassroots organization (with just 3 full-time employees) but since our launch, we've raised nearly $6 million dollars to help those living in extreme poverty: clean water and sanitation, education, maternal health, human trafficking, refugee crisis, hunger, and the list goes on and on.

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You can make a one time gift or make monthly pledge of just $25 (or more). Thanks so much for considering this: http://onedayswages.org/give (link in bio, too) Don't just count your blessings. Bless others with your blessings. Here, there, everywhere. Be a blessing for this blesses our Father in Heaven and builds the Kingdom of God.

#ReThinkRegugees #WeWelcomeRefugees
@onedayswages Grateful. Still reflecting on the letters that I've received from classmates and students that have come before me and after me. Never imagined all that God would have in store for me. Lots of humbling things but in the midst of them, there were literally thousands upon thousands of daily decisions and choices to be faithful. That's what matters. Seen or unseen. Noticed or unnoticed. You do your best and sometimes you stumble and fumble along but nevertheless, seeking to be faithful.

Also, you know you're getting old when your school honors you with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Lol. 47 is the new 27. Or something like that. Here's to the next 47. In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
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