It’s with a heavy heart that I write to let you know that Rich Yauger and his family have answered God’s call to return to Goshen, IN, to serve as a pastor of discipleship. The Yaugers will be returning to the place that Rich considers “home,” where he spent 12 years of his life learning and growing as a pastor.
Rich brought such a shepherding heart to our church, and he is the consummate team player, willing to do whatever is required to love and serve the people of God.
We will miss his voice in our pulpit: the way he brought such tender and compassionate wisdom to the Scriptures (and who can forget the object lessons?). We’ll miss his humor and wit, but most of all, we’ll miss his love for God.
On a personal level, I was so looking forward to our kids growing up together, but I, like you, have had to come to a place to accept and submit to God’s will for Grace and for the Yaugers. I can tell you that this was a difficult decision for them.
As is our practice, we will commission the Yaugers, sending them out with our blessing to carry the DNA of Grace back to Goshen. We also need to give them time to say goodbyes, get their house ready, and to emotionally/physically make the move. Given the timing of all that, the next few weeks will seem to many of you as a swift exit. I can assure you that we’ve been carefully putting together a plan for Rich so that the affected staff can have time to plan for a new ministry year and adjust in their new responsibilities and roles. It will seem fast, but it’s not hurried.
To that end, Rich’s last weekend message will be on 6/2-3, and his last weekend on staff will be 6/9-10 (we will commission the Yaugers to their new ministry assignment then). We look forward to the Yaugers worshiping at Grace until their actual move sometime in July.
Our transition plan for life without Rich is still very much in the works. We do know this much: Kathy Petersen will take on the leadership of all of our Adult Ministries. With her input, we will ask God to provide a new director of men’s ministry. Seth Rumsey and Ryan Richardson will pick up more teaching responsibilities as well. We’ll let you know the rest as it unfolds.
I am going to miss this family. Rich isn’t just a colleague, but a beloved brother, and I thank God for his ministry and profound impact on Grace even in the short time he was here. I know you’ll join me in honoring him and praising God for his life and ministry.
– Mitchel Lee
During the past three and a half years at Grace Community Church, God has done a grace-filled work in my heart. As is often the case, that work has not always been easy. Sometimes the chisel God uses to shape us into the image of Jesus is used delicately and other times it carries a little more force behind it. But, that chisel is always in the hands of a loving Father who uses it with grace and in love and always for our good.
Although there has been much that God has done in me, I still had a desire to be back in the Midwest. While I was not looking to leave Grace, a few months ago God opened a door that would allow my family and me to return to Indiana. Last week we decided to officially walk through that door and accept the role of Pastor of Discipleship at a church in Goshen.
The decision to leave is not an easy one. It isn’t the ministries or programs that we’ll miss the most. Rather, it’s the thought of saying “good-bye” to people who have blessed us in countless ways. Mitchel is a dear brother and I have much love and respect for him. He has taught me so much about being a pastor and has also taught me what it means to speak the Gospel to others AND to myself as well.
Although most would not know it, we came to Grace three and a half years ago feeling very broken and beat up. We are leaving feeling restored and renewed. There will be a church in Indiana that will be forever indebted to you for the way God used Grace to shape us. We step into the next chapter with thanks and hope.
– Rich Yauger
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