Dear Friedens Family (from Pastor Michael),
It is with mixed emotions that I write this letter. After two great years here at Friedens, I have accepted the position of Student Pastor at Hope Church in Oconomowoc, WI. It is an opportunity that was presented to me, not looked for, and I truly believe it is God who is calling me to step into this role. In the discerning process, the significance of Oconomowoc was not lost on me and Katie. Our families live there, and my family attends Hope Church. Katie grew up in the area and knows it well, which is helpful for her new job in real estate. We have deep ties in the community, to both people and institutions. In the end, we are simply doing our best to follow God as He leads us in our lives.
Katie and I were brought to Friedens at a time when we were unsure of many things in life. God made a way for us to be a part of this caring community when we needed it most. In the same way that we followed God’s leading here, we are excited to follow His leading into a new season of our life. It was unexpected, to be sure! We had just bought a house in Port and were fully committed to being a part of Friedens. I wasn’t secretly looking for jobs, I wasn’t upset or disgruntled at Friedens. We were HERE. But when God moves, we answer in faith and trust that He knows what He’s up to.
To the students, I will miss you deeply. From where we started at Upper Lake Park to where we are now has been a wild ride, and I am so proud of how far you’ve come in your walks with God. Continue to move towards God, each other, and the world around you as you live and love like Jesus. Continue to invite people to join the journey, and continue to keep pressing into what God has for you here.
In my time here, Friedens has undergone changes and weathered "unprecedented times," and did so with grace and perseverance. I know that Friedens is poised and ready to invest in the Gospel-centered flourishing of this community more than ever before. I am glad I got to be a small part of the story of God's redemptive work in and through Friedens. As this chapter ends, the story continues, and I know that even more exciting days are ahead. Thank you for taking us in and loving us well. God's work carries on.
A note from Pastor Brandon:
Dear Friedens Family,
The book of Ecclesiastes says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecc. 3:1). Seasons come, and seasons go. Sometimes, it’s difficult when a season comes to an end, such as now as we prepare to say goodbye to Pastor Michael and Katie.
Michael has invested deeply in the students of Friedens; under his leadership, the student ministry has stabilized and grown, with new students coming nearly every week. We shouldn’t take this for granted, especially given the crazy circumstances during Michael’s two years here. When he arrived, we were starting the building project, which required all student ministry to be held off-site. Then came COVID. Through it all, Michael has been dedicated, flexible, and creative. In addition to student ministry, Michael has benefitted the church family in many other ways, including through music, preaching, videos, and graphics. Michael has been a delight to work with, and he and Katie will be missed.
Again, the reality is that seasons come and go. What will our next season hold, especially for student ministry? Here’s what I know at this point.
Michael will continue working at Friedens through June 30. From now until then, Michael will continue leading student ministry activities.
This week, the Leadership Board is taking time to pray, process, and discuss next steps. The most likely direction is that we will soon launch a search process to hire Friedens’ next Pastor of Youth & Young Adults. However, before jumping into that process, the Board believes it is vital to take time to pray and seek God’s guidance.
There will be an interim period between July 1 and whenever the long-term plan is implemented (e.g., a new pastor starts at Friedens). Thankfully, we have great leaders in student ministry who are well-connected with the students, and we have navigated interim periods before in the leadership of student ministry. So I am confident we will be able to navigate the upcoming months well as we await God’s timing for long-term plans.
Please be praying. Thank God for His work through Michael during the past two years, and pray for him and Katie as they transition to their next season of life and ministry. Please pray for the Leadership Board and staff team, that they will have wisdom for the next steps and coming months. Pray especially for the students of Friedens, that they will process this transition in healthy ways and will continue growing closer to Jesus and one another. Finally, please pray for God’s provision for the long-term leadership of Friedens’ ministry to middle and high school students.