Eugene Cho

quest + interbay = one church

copy-of-quest_5yr_80.jpg

[updated June 4] Quest celebrated their joint ONE service yesterday.  Relevant links:  video tribute to Interbay and Seattle PI article on the merger.

[updated May 6] This past Sunday, Quest also voted in favor of merging with our neighbors, Interbay Covenant Church. Two weeks ago, Interbay – an older, established church with 65 years of history, voted to merge with Quest – a newer [6 years], emerging, multiethnic, and missional church.   The ”merger” is amazing because while two equal churches are coming together, Interbay has chosen to join Quest and dissolve as a formal organization and institution. Their Kingdom vision has been humbling and amazing…

My wife and I hosted our first “info” meeting for our churchplant in December 2000.  Eight people showed up.  Quest had our first weekly community study in January 2001 and met for several months at the Seattle Vineyard Church. Because Vineyard was planning on starting an evening service, we were forced to move but could not find another church with space.  During the last hour, we were introduced to Interbay Covenant Church – in a neighborhood called Interbay which neither I nor any of the 30 Questers at that time had ever heard of.

We rented their building from 2001-2002 and held our service in the evenings at 5.07pm.  We inquired with them about the possibility of renovating their small warehouse [next door] that they used to utilize for their youth ministry in the 1970s-80s.  After an amazing and quick turnaround [from this to this], that warehouse became our current live music venue, non-profit Q Cafe, and our church space in Oct. 2002.   Simply, God has blessed Quest…[5 year video]

About 2.5 years ago, Interbay’s senior pastor, Ray Bartel, approached me about a vision.  The idea surrounded a radical vision for Interbay to ‘give itself’ to Quest.  It began as a thought, then a conversation, and then led to shared prayer.  We eventually shared the thought with our respective leadership teams and it stayed there for a long time and eventually, with support from the respective leadership, was posed to the larger church communities for dialogue, prayer, and conversation this past year.

There are 3 things [amongst many] that make this an incredible story.

  1. An amazing commitment to the Larger Kingdom.  The average size church in Seattle is about 80 people.  Interbay is averaging about 60 adults and 10 children.  They basically had no debt and were financially stable; While the long term future of Interbay was uncertain, it was very obvious that they could have been around for several more years.  Who knows?  There are many churches that can’t fully grasp that even churches (small ‘c’) have a life cycle as well; they try hanging on till the very end and are usually forced to make decisions with their backs against the wall.  Developers are often hawking for the opportunity to pummel down church buildings to build up condos, high-rises, retail shops, and such.  Once the larger Kingdom loses property and building, it’ll never come back. Folks at Interbay have said on numerous occasions: “What we want is to see, above all,  is a vibrant and thriving church presence in this area and to Seattle…That’s what matters to us.”  This is Kingdom vision.
  2. An amazing step of faith.  Like all works of God, there are stories of amazing faith in the history of Interbay.  The ministry at Interbay began about 65 years ago.  A man named Henry Isaacson purchased the land and handed it over to First Covenant Church Seattle.  FCC eventually deeded the property to Interbay  – a churchplant of FCC that was ‘officially’ established on Easter Sunday, 1954.  53 years of amazing history.  People like Carl and Inga Hagstrom have literally used their very hands to build the church – physically and metaphorically.  I had the pleasure of speaking with Inga recently and was moved to near tears to hear her love for Jesus and the church.  There are stories like Elsa Olson who was given a ‘temporary’ Sunday School class of 2 and 3 year olds.  That temporary job lasted 24 years and the current [and future] nursery, Elsa’s Garden, is named after Elsa.  During the early years, the children’s ministry grew to about 200 children; in the 1970s-80s, Interbay was the hub for a vibrant youth ministry.  We still have occasional customers at our non-profit Q Cafe reminiscing how their lives were impacted by their youth ministry in the same space many years ago.  Nobody likes change. It is difficult; it takes courage; it takes faith.   This is an amazing story of faith.
  3. An amazing example of generosity.  While this is a ‘merger,’ Interbay is giving a great deal as they have chosen to join Quest.  In this merger, they will relinquish their church institution – their name, their leadership team, their constitution, and simply, their ‘ways of doing things.’  A well discussed ‘Transition Plan’ will be implemented to ensure that the most important asset in any church community – the people – will not be forgotten or hurt.   All of their assets and stuff will also be given to the unifed Quest.  While their church building isn’t large, the value of the land and building is astronomical as is everything in Seattle. The building/land – valued at approximately 8 million – will also be passed on to Quest.  This is amazing generosity.

While the vote was near unanimous for Interbay and much excitement, it should be noted that there’s some pain and a sense of loss for the folks at Interbay.  It’s understandable.  Some grieving will need to take place.  But it is both my personal and our church’s sincere hope and conviction that the sense of ‘loss’ will be redeemed by the abundant fruit of shared community, vision, and ministry.   We’re not naive; we know there is going to be some adjustment for both churches.  While we share similarities, we are also two very different churches.   I am most excited about the privilege we have of growing together.  Their stories, wisdom, and gifts will be a great blessing not only to Quest but in our shared commitment to be a missional presence to Seattle and the larger world. 

I am sharing this story not only to inform those who are tracking with this story, but as one way to honor the community and legacy of Interbay.  Their story, courage and faith, sacrifice, and legacy needs to be shared with others.  Feel free to forward this story to others and since some of the folks at Interbay subscribe to this blog, share how their faith, courage, and Kingdom vision has blessed you.

Interbay: Thank you for your amazing faith and courage! 

Filed under: christianity, emerging church, ministry, seattle

38 Responses

  1. chris says:

    This is an Amazing Story! I come from a church where the younger and the older generation had a hard time working together, didn’t want to compromise and submit to one another to further God’s Kingdom. Thank You Interbay for giving me hope!!!

  2. Blake says:

    Praise, God! Interbay, I look forward to the many years that lie ahead, getting to know and love you as much as I do the rest of our church. As I 24 year old man, I also look forward to the mentorship that I hope and pray will come with the growth of our family. This whole thing is tremendously humbling.

  3. Teresa says:

    I’m so excited! To see a church continue to choose vision and ministry and expanding the kingdom of God, even when it’s a hard choice and giving beyond where it’s easy, is an inspiration. My father’s father helped build the church he was in for 82 years, which closed last summer. All they got to feel was the loss and the ending of what had been a big part of their lives. I look forward to the legacy that will continue to be built by this merger, and the richness of the shared story that will develop as we learn from each other.

  4. […] eagerness to ’see’ what He is up to next with us!   check it out… and enjoy! https://eugenecho.wordpress.com/2007/04/16/an-amazing-story-part-2/ […]

  5. Joshua says:

    We’ve been praying with you man, so this is exciting and encouraging answer to prayer. I love the heart of the older saints at Interbay. What a testament to old school faithfulness. We’ll keep lifting you and yours in prayer through the transition.

    Joshua

  6. Aaron says:

    As a member of Interbay Covenant, I am very excited about what lies ahead for our two churches. Thank you to those from Quest who posted comments above, I am looking forward to working/worshipping with you!

  7. Tim Sneath says:

    It has been an immensely moving and humbling experience to share with Interbay in envisioning a joint future over the last few months. I have seen an amazing witness of God’s grace and love in the way the leaders of Interbay have openly sought what builds his kingdom. This is a huge step of faith that many churches would not have had the strength and maturity to even consider, and I hope that we can honor this gift and seek a joint path ahead that leads to the gospel being shared with renewed passion in the Interbay area. I look forward to seeing one united church worshiping together and serving each other.

    In love, Tim

  8. Tony says:

    I want to sincerely thank the community at Interbay for the example. You are truly an inspiration not only to Quest but to many others as well beyond Seattle – including me.

  9. Greg yee says:

    Euge, this is exciting news. can’t wait to hear more.

  10. Ted Yuen says:

    I love how this story has unfolded! God’s showing off again! Way to honor the saints at Interbay. I’m really excited for you and for Quest. I remember my first time trying to find your church in the early days, before the warehouse reno. How cool is it to see the partnership between Interbay and Quest come to this …

  11. one Quest Member says:

    What an amazing selfless gift! May God bless you for your heart for His greater Kingdom. May Quest honor and use this gift with spiritual discernment and wisdom. We pray that Quest Church will make you proud in the years to come, as we grow together as one church dedicated to doing the work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  12. RL says:

    Dear fellow ICC brothers and sisters,
    I would like to take this opportunity to Praise the Lord for uniting His people. I praise God for the wisdom and knowledge that He will bless us all with this merging of His will and ours. I look forward to learnign and serving each other through Christ. I long to see unity and worship together with you; to share joy together and also to share trials together.

    May the Lord be delighted in our union and bless the children of this church.

    With love and blessings,
    Richie

  13. Nicole G says:

    Interbay,
    Having grown up in the same church in my youth, I’m proud of your church. Change like this I’m sure will be hard. However, I pray blessings for you for being open to the Lord. Looking forward to meeting more as one church!

  14. TW says:

    I just wanted to thank you for the journey with Quest thus far and am looking forward to future ministry with you. I have been humbled by your posture of faith and giving in the midst of future transition. We are excited to see what God will do in honor of this merger.

  15. Pat says:

    This has been a wonderful story. Congratulations to this new community.

  16. Interbay’s prayer group is responsible for making me a missionary. They are the ones who have prayed for God’s call in my life even when I had a very different goal for my career. Look at what happened – I first ended up in Siberia as a short-term missionary because of their prayers and now I am back in Russia again as a missionary, again because of the Interbay’s support and prayers.

    My desire is to see the Quest Church continue impacting people’s lives for Christ. More than ever before. More than anyone has ever imagined.

  17. JR says:

    I just want to thank you for literally loving your neighbor! The love that you’ve shown us and your willingness to combine with us is such a blessing. I’m excited for our future together!

  18. Jason says:

    Dear Interbay,

    I’m excited about the merging of two churches into one. I am struck by the fact that it is much more difficult to bring together to distinct churches into one than it is to split a church into two. for a church to come together consciously seek to overcome the barriers speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit doing the work of Jesus bringing together and making one body when there was two. Thank you for taking the lead in this endeavor and willingness to bring us into your community.

  19. e cho says:

    Leonid: thanks for those words. It is our shared prayer that Quest would continue to impact people.

  20. Chris says:

    We are so excited to do ministry together

  21. BL says:

    Dear Interbay,

    I can think of very few churches who have done what you are doing. In fact, I can think of quite the opposite – churches (often times who are dying – which you certainly aren’t) who are fighting to merely protect themselves with little care for the Kingdom of God. Your willingness to merge with Quest reminds us that Quest exists not for our own sake – that perhaps one day we might give over ourselves to another church for the Kingdom of God.

  22. CF says:

    Dear Interbay Church,

    We want to thank you for the many years of presence and service through your church over the years, as it has left a lasting legacy. Thank you also for your humility and Godly character throughout the whole process, which will also leave a lasting legacy and model for the new church to continue. We hope to learn from you as we get to know you. And we hope too you will feel that the foundation you’ve laid is continually bearing more fruit in succeeding generations.

  23. Awesome! I am completely energized by reading this! God’s best to you all!

  24. […] Emerging story of the week: quest + interbay = one church = cool. […]

  25. […] and catholics can work together, and if an emerging church and an inherited/institutional one can officially merge (another update), then there’s hope for all of […]

  26. […] leadership team and membership have decided to merge with and into Quest Church.    This is an amazing story of Kingdom vision, courage, and sacrifice.  These posts are from a record of Interbay’s […]

  27. […] courage, and a truly Kingdom view of the Church.  You can check out the whole story here on Eugene’s web site.  So what does this have to do with […]

  28. […] the Interbay Covenant Church sanctuary, where Quest Church meets now since the merger with Interbay. Corin wears a fabulous outfit from Auntie Lauren, while Amanda wears a fabulous outfit from […]

  29. […] can read some previous entries about this: Quest + Interbay = 1 church [pre-decision],  We Are One [post decision], and Seattle PI article on […]

  30. turnaroundchurches says:

    What a blessing to stumble across this story! It is a clear example of 2 Timothy 2:2 – the things the Interbay had learned from FCC have been entrusted to Quest, who has by this blog been able to teach the same to others.

  31. […] It is an amazing story.  I commend it to you, to strengthen your faith.  Read about it here. […]

  32. Victor Puentes says:

    There was a youth group in the 90’s that occupied the warehouse, for clarification ask Gina Waters, Canesha Warren, or Pamela Christensen. I only mention this for historical accuracy.

  33. […] joined Quest via the church merger.  Despite the “changes” in church including much louder music and longer sermons, she […]

  34. […] 2 very different Seattle churches decide to unite – a wonderful article about an older traditional church [Interbay] gifting itself to Quest and merging with us in an amazing story. […]

  35. […] of Q Cafe in 2002 and for the long process of the “merger” with Interbay and the miracle of their gift to […]

  36. […] reflections I wrote several years ago a day after Interbay’s official vote to join Quest to become ONE church. The story was so beautiful that it actually made the cover of the  Seattle […]

  37. […] many crazy stories. The craziest one might be the story of this church and community giving themselves and a $5-6 million dollar property to […]

  38. […] entire property and church to Quest. After three years of discussions, prayers, and more prayers, Interbay merged and joined with Quest in 2007. Their generosity and Kingdom vision made this […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. 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.

my tweets

  • The Gospel, not social justice, is our identity as believers but the Gospel compels us to love God/love people incl. work 4 the common good. || 1 day ago
  • Folks often ask me, "What is social justice?" "Social justice" are fancier words for "Give a Damn". || 1 day ago
  • RT @EugeneCho: Just met Edna, a sister-in-Christ. She's 90 years old. She met Jesus when she was 85. You're never too young or too old to f… || 1 day ago
  • Thank you @fullerfyi @KPowellFYI for this important resource about listening, engaging, and discipling young people: churchesgrowingyoung.com || 1 day ago
  • Just met Edna, a sister-in-Christ. She's 90 years old. She met Jesus when she was 85. You're never too young or too old to follow Christ. || 2 days ago
  • RT @jennysimmons: Hard to convey the profound impact @EugeneCho has had on me. His endorsement of #MadeWellBook means a great deal. https:/… || 2 days ago

JOIN ME ON FACEBOOK

advertisements

Blog Stats

  • 3,419,121 hits