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Word of the Week

December 05 2018
December 05 2018

My New Calling

At the end of our trip to Malawi, Africa in July 2018, Duncan Nyozani, the Malawi Team leader, asked me a pointed question: “So Don, are you God’s man for Malawi?” At the time I told him I didn’t know the answer to that, but I expressed my desire to ensure that capable pastors return annually to train leaders in Malawi.

My sense was that in a few years I would leave Grace to work full time with Equipping Leaders International. However, several moments this fall changed my time frame. The ELI director let me know they’d welcome me any time and invited me to attend the annual conference. I decided I’d do that for the “few years down the road” option. And then I had a wonderful meeting with Dois Rosser and the leaders of International Cooperating Ministries.

That Hampton, Virginia meeting brought me into God’s presence in a way I never expected. I left that meeting and said, “Lord, I’m ready now - I’ll go.” Caron has been fully supportive of this exploration. The training in Florida confirmed that this is the path the Holy Spirit has put us on.

I brought this sense of calling before our elders at our October meeting. The elders of our church were immediately supportive and encouraging. They expressed their love for our family and appreciation for us. They had sensed this could be coming, though perhaps some thought it might be a few years later. I could have hardly imagined a more loving and supportive response. You should know that all this comes about during a time of great unity and comradery across the board.

Thus, I am resigning as the Pastor of Grace Community Church effective January 31, 2019. The congregation will act on this resignation (a part of our church government process) on a congregational meeting January 6, 2019 after our 9:30 service. I trust that you will all concur with the elders and myself that this indeed is the Holy Spirit’s direction for me, and for our church.

To many who know me, this comes as no surprise. But the timing may seem very fast. In my early considerations of this calling, I thought about a longer time frame. After seeking the wisdom of others, and in consultation with the elders, this timeframe seems wise. Now that we know what is coming, it made sense to move forward very directly so that I can begin raising support and the church can move on to find her next pastor.

We are leaving the role we’ve had in our church, but we will live here in Charlottesville. I will be traveling about 12 weeks a year to Africa. We can still be friends. You will see us around church. When your new pastor arrives, we won’t be visible for a while. We will step back and let the new pastor find his way, but here and there you will see us! And, we can still see each other as friends.

I know that the church is left in good hands. You are blessed with wonderful elders and deacons. Your Assistant Pastor, Tom Breeden, is wise and compassionate - far beyond his years. Your staff are wonderful and capable people and good friends. Transitions are hard, of course, but I am praying and believing that this transition will be energizing for our church. I’m praying for God to bless the selection of Grace’s next pastor.

Its hard to believe that January 27th will end 21 years and four months of ministry here at Grace. What a privilege and honor it has been! I love our church, and I love the people God has given us. I’m forever grateful to God and to the kindness of so many present and former members of our church. I’m thankful for all of you. I encourage you to stick around and see what God is going to do next.  Be constant in prayer, and faithful in love.

In Him,


Key Dates:

January 6, 2019 - Following the 9:30 service there will be a congregational meeting at which the members will vote to accept the resignation of Pastor Ward, and vote on issuing a call to Assistant Pastor Breeden to become an Associate Pastor. This will make him a voting member of our session and he will moderate the monthly meetings.

January 27, 2019 - Don’s last sermon as Pastor of Grace

January 31, 2019 - Don’s last day as Pastor


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