Part of the reason it’s been so quiet here is that I’ve been preparing for a big change. Last Sunday, May 6, I made a big announcement to our students and leaders at SoulStation and to our church at all three worship services: it’s time for the Cornetts to take a new assignment. Here is an edit/excerpt of what I got to say personally to our church (Curt’s sermon that morning was 1 Thess. 1 and faith, love, and hope):
“My heart is too full to say this well, but the time has come for me and my family to leave. I am stepping down as Assistant Pastor for Student Ministries here at New Hope in order to take a call as Assoc. Pastor of Youth and Family Ministry at Signal Mountain Presbyterian in Signal Mountain, TN. For ten whole years you have been gracious and kind to me and my family, allowing us to live among you, serve with you, love you, and grow with you. You have encouraged my faith even as I have worked to strengthen yours in Jesus Christ. You have been a shining example of a church that hopes in Christ, a local church that represents that hope to its community and each other. And finally, we love you and we know you love us. Together we have lived out what 1 Thessalonians 2:8 says so well: “we loved you so much that we delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our very lives as well.”
It has been my great privilege to get to know you and lead you (mostly in student ministry) as together we followed Christ and asked him to lead our church and its ministries where he wanted them to go. And now it is clear to me that, in asking God to lead us, He is leading me away from here and to a new work at a different church. Last Sunday, on April 29, the congregation at Signal Mountain voted to call me to their church … and I accepted that call. That set in motion a careful process. On Monday this past week I told our pastoral staff; on Tuesday, I shared the news with the elders on our Session and the Personnel and Christian Ed Councils; and on Wednesday, the staff. They all kept their word and sealed their lips until I could tell you all face to face this morning. (Robin and I told our own kids last Sunday night – and Michael, Caroline, and Elanor – I am so proud of you for honoring your mom and dad and keeping the news to yourself for a whole week).
Let me try to anticipate a few questions:
How long has this been brewing?
Answer: a very long time. I had an encounter with God last May that left me very clear that it would soon be time for me to leave New Hope; I just didn’t know when or where. Signal Mountain contacted me in early October, and then I had a series of interviews over January – April.
Why are you leaving?
Answer: For all the good reasons. I cannot say this clearly enough: there is nothing or no one here that is causing problems or encouraging me to leave (and besides, that wouldn’t cause me to go). It’s not you – it’s me. But it’s not really me – it’s God. This is a tremendous church and I have every reason to stay … except the most important one: I am absolutely convinced that God is leading me and our family away. I have prayed long about this and have a deep sense of call from the Holy Spirit to go this new work at a new church.
What is your timeline?
Answer: We will move sometime this summer in order to get settled before a new school year. I have some work here that’s important to me to finish (including our trips) and I want to leave well.
What do you want to say?
Answer: I am so glad you asked! As we have lived and served together, I’ve always tried to point you – and especially you students – to Jesus Christ and following him. He is completely trustworthy, completely able, and worth all our faith and obedience. And when he calls, you have a choice to make. To follow or not. To go or to stay. You don’t know how this step is going to turn out, but you know He’s the Lord and has prepared the way. So take the leap and follow Jesus – go forward!
And finally, thank you – thank you – thank you. It has been such a privilege to serve among you. You have been our church, our family, our home. We love you and we will miss you!”
[As to the longer story and how God has met me in this process, I will tell it on this blog over the next few weeks.]