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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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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