Shortly before Easter our Pastor, Jonathan Thomas, shared the news with our members that having been approached, he had accepted the invitation to become the new Pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Church in Abergavenny from September onwards.
The decision for Jon to accept a call from Cornerstone was not taken lightly. We learnt in our studies in Joshua, some 3 years ago, how important it is to seek God and not simply taste provision (see the story in Joshua 9). As Jonathan and Becca have sought God’s leading and direction for their future, it has become obvious to them that it is right for the family to make the move and to take up this ministry in Abergavenny.
Jon will have served us as pastor for 12 years. Prior to this he also spent time as our Assistant Pastor and before that he was an enthusiastic member of the youth in the Cellar. For more than 2 decades Jonathan has been part of our church family.
During this time we have been greatly blessed, benefiting hugely from both Jon and Becca’s ministry amongst us. In February last year we gathered to look back over Jon’s decade as Pastor of AEC. It was heartwarming to reminisce over everything that has been achieved in that time. We will forever be grateful to God for all the teaching and wise leadership we have received.
Come September the Thomas family will be settling into a new chapter in their lives and we in Ammanford will be beginning our own new chapter. One obvious implication of this news is that the leadership team here in Ammanford, what we call the Eldership, will be down in number for a time. We hope over the coming months to do some rearranging and recruiting as we seek to not only to replace Jonathan (and Matt before him), but to move forward together as a church and to grow in our mission of making and maturing Christ followers.
In the short-term, Sammy will be transitioning into the role of Pastor come September. Together the entire Eldership (Jonathan included) will be looking at all options regarding strengthening the team that leads us.
In the longer-term, we are already praying and seeking God about who it is that should join our team in order to work alongside Sammy as an assistant or associate or even as our new Pastor.
It is reassuring to remember that AEC has always and will always be a church led by a team. While we the individual personalities and giftings of the likes of Kev, Jon and others, it has always been the relationships and teamwork between our leaders that has moved our church forward.
How can you be praying with us?
Firstly, be praying for Jonathan and family. Pray that they will know the reality of God’s caring presence and provision during this time. Moving home, jobs and schools will not be easy. Pray especially for Jonathan as he works to finish well with us and lay the foundations for many years of fruitful ministry in Abergavenny.
Secondly, pray for Cornerstone Evangelical, the receiving church. While losing Jonathan will be a great loss to us, we are glad that he goes to serve our brothers and sisters: partners in God’s mission to make and mature Christ followers here in Wales. Pray that as they are led and taught by Jonathan they will support him and encourage him as a church family should. Pray that the church will grow, that their faith would be strengthened and that with renewed vigor they would seek to witness to our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Thirdly, please do pray for us in Ammanford:
Pray for wisdom among the leaders as we search for new staff to join our team as well as other who may join our eldership. These are important decisions in the life of any church and we trust God to guide us.
Pray that those of us who are able to step up to take on new responsibilities will do so. The task of leading, teaching and caring for a church this size is a demanding one, an impossible one if left to one or two people. Yet when all the parts of the body function as they ought the body is healthy.
Pray that we won’t lose the vision of reaching the lost. It would be all too easy to succumb to an inward looking, self-preservation viewpoint at this time. Pray that we would keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and the wonderful mission he has called us to.
Times of change disruption and uncertainty are never easy but the God we serve hasn’t changed. The God we serve is not taken by surprise. Certainly we will face challenges just as we always have. Yet equally we will find opportunities to grow individually and to continue to grow as a church. Now is both a daunting and exciting time! If God is for us who can be against us? Pray that we would look forward with expectation and hope about what God is doing amongst us.
Our prayer is that our experience would be similar to Abraham as he walked into the unknown:
“Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
If you have any questions about what’s going on or want to offer encouragement to everyone involved we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone 01269 593182.