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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Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer. Seattle. 7:00pm. Desperately holding on to summer. #goldengardenpark #nofilter Happy Birthday, Minhee! I'm so grateful for you. You radiate faith, hope, and love.  No...you don't complete me. That would be silly and simply humanly impossible but you keep pointing me and our family to Christ who informs and transforms our lives, marriage, family, and ministry. Thanks for being so faithful. I love you so much. (* And what a gift to be in Korea together.)

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