Back in the late summer I got a phone call from an elder at a church who was asking about a particular young man who might be a good candidate for their pastoral search. I listened intently so I could possibly help them in their search. In the middle of the conversation, he stopped and asked me, “What about you? Would you be interested in possibly becoming a candidate?” My quick response was, “No, thank you! I am fine where I am and what I am doing.”
I really was fine, I wasn’t just trying to be nice. But God began an interesting work in my heart. It was a little before that time when I had several doctors tell me that I needed to slow down a bit and possibly even change jobs from what I was doing. God was beginning to steer Cindy and me a new direction.
This elder went on to say, “Would you pray about it and consider tossing your name in the search?” I said I would, and didn’t think too much about it further, accept to actually pray about it. The elder mentioned that he would be in Greenville in a couple of days and wondered if he could sit down and talk with me. I said, “Of course, I’d love to talk with you.” Two days later, after a long day at work, Cindy and I thought we would rendezvous at a local restaurant and grab a bite to eat. We chose to sit outside and was finished with our meal when we spotted two children with their mom looking expectantly at every car that pulled into the parking lot. The mother mentioned they were looking for their cousins who were to arrive any minute. Not long after that, a van pulled into the parking lot and out jumped this family. There were hugs and kisses for everyone. It was quite a reunion.
A few minutes later, a man tapped me on the shoulder and asked me, “Are you Eric Sipe?” I said, “Yes, I am…” He introduced himself as the elder of the church who had called me two days earlier. Coincidence? I don’t think so. God was at work.
After many phone calls, texts, emails, video calls, face-to-face meetings and a candidacy, by God’s design, I have accepted the call to become the pastor of Calvary Bible Church in Columbus, Ohio. Yes, “Go Buckeyes!”
We are still working out the details as all transitions will have it–there are plenty of details. But overall, the people of Heritage Bible Church have been very supportive and so many people have written, emailed, sent texts, FB, and Twitter messages stating they have prayed for some time for the good people of Calvary Bible Church. This has been truly remarkable. God has shown special care to us, to the people of Heritage and to the people of Calvary Bible Church.
Transitions are never easy. There is no book written to cover all the needs of a transition and so many people get confused, hurt, or fearful during these times. God has already shown such kindness and we are not expecting anything less during this transition. Our hope and trust is in our Savior, who has led us all the way.
1. The people of Heritage Bible Church. They are some of my dearest friends. I will miss them greatly. At the same time they heard my announcement, Matthew Hoskinson announced that he will be candidating at the First Baptist Church of New York City. It literally is the first baptist church of NYC. So, quite possibly, Heritage will be facing two pastors who will be leaving.
2. The people of Calvary Bible Church. They too are in transition. Anytime a new pastor comes in, changes are made. Personalities change things automatically. Things just won’t be the same–for any of us. These times are often unsettling and can stir up fear. We always fear the unknown and any new guy bears that reality not only of himself, but for the people he ministers to.
3. Cindy and Me – yes, we need your prayers. Moves are never fun. Things get broken and damaged. Packing and unpacking can be tedious and tiring. Going from the south to the north…no more sweet tea, (which I never drink anyway…); and leaving long-time friends who are very, very dear–will all be very real in the next few weeks. However, to see God at work in three different strategic cities, in three different strategic churches, and in three different groups of His people is an absolute thrill. That is not anything I want to ever get tired of or ever take for granted. Life is all about God, who He is and what He is doing in His world. It’s all about Him!
So, a transition is what we all face in the next several weeks. Like everything else, we need God’s great grace daily to persevere. May His name be praised!
Grace to you!