After 10 years as the pastor of The Commons, I have accepted a new job as part of Greater Ontario House of Prayer (GOHOP). On Sunday October 4th, 2020, at there will be a special Zoom Gathering celebrating my ministry at The Commons.
Here is the announcement I made at The Commons Online Gathering on Sunday August 30th, 2020:
“Over the last year The Commons has been on a pretty intense discernment journey, which resulted in the partnership between The Meeting Place & The Commons. With the support of The Commons’ leadership (Krista, Matt and Jeanette) as well as Sue Carr (the pastor of The Meeting Place) I have been on my own discernment journey this summer.
The end result is that I feel strongly called into something new and I have accepted a staff position with GOHOP (Greater Ontario House of Prayer). This means I’ll be transitioning from the pastor of The Commons to being one of GOHOP’s urban prayer “Monks” (for lack of a better word), but my kids say they won’t be telling their friends that my new job is being a “prayer monk.” They will just keep telling people I’m a pastor.
I think it is important to give a little context and unpack things when you toss around words like “personal discernment” or “feeling called.”
God has been doing something new in my life for a while now. There has been a shift in my spiritual walk. I have found myself engaging with God in dramatic ways over this last year through practices like listening prayer, silence, gospel contemplation, and discernment prayer. GOHOP has been a great resource in these areas for me and I have found myself naturally trying to connect people to these practices though GOHOP’s ministry. At first I was very surprised that Holy Spirit things were happening to me on a regular basis. I have come to recognize something familiar in the “arrival” of these new gifts and experiences and it reminds me very much of when I first became the pastor of The Commons.
11 years ago my church was going through a large transition. The founding pastor had moved on and we were looking for a denominational home to join. During that time I found that some strange things were happening inside me. I had a new set of spiritual gifts arising and I was quickly functioning as The Commons’ unofficial pastor. We looked for a transitional pastor to lead us through the process of replanting but we were advised it would be better to hire one of our own lay leaders. All of a sudden my unofficial role as lay pastor turned into that of professional pastor. As I think back to that time, I realize I was “being a pastor” before I was called and hired to “be the pastor.”
I am struck by the similarity of my current journey. I feel like God has been giving me a new set of gifts, gifts that are good and exciting but that are something different than what I have been doing as the pastor of The Commons. To be completely honest this last year has been the hardest year I have ever had in ministry (and I have weathered some pretty dramatic changes and transitions over the years). In the midst of this difficulty, it has also been a year of great spiritual growth and awareness. As I think back to all the thin places where God had been breaking into my life they have all been increasingly in contexts like GOHOP. It is as if I have been starting to “live as a new monastic,” (like a prayer monk) before even realizing this might be the next stage in my ministry life.
God has always been one step ahead of my plan, giving the gifts and experiences needed just as they are required. For 15 years I have been so blessed to be part of The Commons in one way or another (with 10 of those years as the pastor). My journey with The Meeting Place has been much shorter, but it has been amazing to create these online gatherings together for the last 6 months with all my new & old friends. It has been a privilege to see these two communities come together in an amazing way in the middle of such strange times.
I am so thankful that The Commons and The Meeting Place both have a close and longstanding relationships with GOHOP. From my perspective, I see this not as a leaving but rather as a sending. My hope and prayer would be that you see it that way as well.”