A letter from Pastor Jim
September 17, 2020
Dear Church Family and Friends:
For many months now I have been reflecting on my service and role here as the Senior Pastor of the Bridgeton First Church of the Nazarene. In these past two-plus years with you, we have experienced many significant changes in the life of our congregation. When I was initially interviewed by your church board in January 2018, they clearly articulated for me what they saw as the two most pressing issues facing the congregation: 1) the relationship with the Daycare ministry, and 2) the need for a transformational change in the church’s worship life to include the addition of “band-led” worship.
Upon my arrival in April 2018, I launched a review process of the Daycare in cooperation with the church board. After months of evaluation and review the church board voted to terminate the Daycare operations effective February 1, 2019.
Also, shortly after my arrival, several new members joined our fellowship. Their gifts and talents enabled us to transition to “band-led” worship. In addition, as I have worked with each elected church board since my arrival, I have been asked to clearly define our “direction” or “vision” as a local congregation.
In that process I have identified two specific areas of ministry that I believe are essential to the present and future ministry of this local church: 1) outreach to young families/millennials, and 2) outreach to the growing Hispanic population in the greater Bridgeton area. We have taken steps to address these much needed areas of ministry.
Also during the time since my arrival, we have experienced the loss of our Associate Pastor, Rev. Dennis Williams and Director of Youth Ministry, Rev. Kyle Parker. We no longer employ someone to serve as the church treasurer. We have experienced turnover in our church janitor/custodian position as well as with the church secretary. And, then we entered the coronavirus pandemic.
In the midst of all of these changes, opinions have varied greatly regarding the “rightness” of each move. Conflict has arisen. Some have left. Many have remained. And others may be still deciding. What has become clear to me during this time is that the role of the Senior Pastor at this church may be the most significant factor in people’s decisions regarding their commitment to stay and serve or leave. I wish this were not the case.
Recently, in July I received a unanimous vote of confidence from the current church board. For that, I am thankful. But nonetheless, I have become convinced that with these significant changes behind us, it is in the best interest of this local church for me to step aside as the Senior Pastor and make room for others to take up the mantle of pastoral leadership.
As such, on Tuesday night, September 8, 2020, I presented to the church board my letter of resignation. As per the procedures outlined in the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene, our District Superintendent, Rev. Kerry Willis accepted my resignation effective Sunday, September 13, 2020. Pastor Kerry has requested that I continue as Senior Pastor up to and including October 18, 2020.
I want to thank you for the privileged opportunity of serving here. Thank you for your vote of confidence in calling me to serve as your Senior Pastor. I am grateful, that although this has been a difficult season of transition and reformation, that I was able to share with you in this time. I regret that my efforts have not yet yielded more fruit, but I am hopeful that with my leaving God will bring an increase that significantly impacts generations yet to come.
Since I do not regard the local church as something that belongs to me, but rather as an expression of Christ to which I have been extended the privilege to be part of; I am confident that you will move forward with great success. Your District Superintendent will, no doubt, lead you effectively in the process of calling your next pastor. This will afford you the opportunity to bond with your district leadership in a way that will be helpful in your days of future ministry.
With the Apostle Paul, I extend to you this sentiment from Second Corinthians 13:7, NRSV:
“But we (I) pray to God that you may not do anything wrong –
not that we (I) may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right,
though we (I) may seem to have failed.”
Move forward in strength and confidence. My prayers are with you and may God bless your faithfulness with great growth. Thank you once again for the privilege of serving here as your Senior Pastor.
Dr. Jim Peterson, Lead Pastor