From Bryan Eckelmann:
Dear People of St. Andrew’s,
On October 23 I will be presented to the congregation of Trinity Presbyterian Church of Santa Ana, CA as their candidate to become their next Lead Pastor. With a grateful heart for what is to come as well as deep sadness for what I leave behind, I ask you to pray with and for me as I offer myself to this new ministry call.
This new position is not one I sought – it instead found me – but I am nonetheless honored and thrilled. Likewise, St. Andrew’s is not a church I want to leave! I would dearly love to stay here with you and Pastor Jason and staff for the rest of my career. But in a variety of ways (I’d be happy to describe them to you in the days ahead) I have sensed God’s clear call to go to and serve the people of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Santa Ana.
The irony of God’s timing is that I am absolutely thrilled with our church’s present leadership and direction. In the time I’ve spent with Pastor Jason, I have come to the clear conviction that St. Andrew’s is in excellent hands! Jason is both talented and yet humble, gracious and yet genuine, bold and yet caring, and youthful and yet wise. Most of all, he is passionate about Christ and His Church. In short, I would have loved to work alongside Jason for years to come! But God had other plans. And last week, Trinity’s 11-month search concluded.
I can hardly begin to describe how grateful I am for the time I have spent at St. Andrew’s. Certain moments in ministry particularly warm a pastor’s heart – newfound faith, or rekindled enthusiasm for Christ, or the Spirit’s work in a life or two, or relationships of depth, or things of meaning in mission. Timberly and I are extraordinarily blessed to reflect on these last twelve years amongst you and see all of those things, and so much more! In our 35 years of ministry together, no church we have served has been so rewarding; and the reason is you, the dear persons of this congregation – or, more exactly, the Holy Spirit working in and through you.
A few details that may be helpful. I preach a “candidate’s sermon” (something like a final job interview for pastors…!) at Trinity on October 23. I then will serve St. Andrew’s until the holiday season, spending much of my time teaching (Jason has graciously asked me to preach twice, on October 15/16 and November 19/20), visiting, counseling, and serving alongside St. Andrew’s excellent staff. Around December 1, Timberly and I will take a brief time of vacation. I then begin at Trinity Church a few weeks before Christmas.
In the meantime, I will spend much of my time trying to convey to each of you my gratitude for the kindness, respect and support you have given me these last twelve years. And even as we move to a different mission outpost of God’s grace, St. Andrew’s will remain in our thoughts and prayers for continued ministry and mission that honors our Lord and Savior, Christ.
In His Love and Grace,
From Jason T. Smith:
Dear St. Andrew’s Family,
My prayer is that this is a time of celebration. Pastor Bryan Eckelmann has served this congregation so well for nearly 12 years. When I began as your Lead Pastor in August, I could immediately sense the love that this community has for him, and the impact his friendship, ministry, and call has had at our church. He has walked alongside so many through the highs and lows of life over the years, and he will be dearly missed. I understand it is often a surprise when a Pastor leaves for a new call, but this is a sign of God expanding His Kingdom. And so while his departure is bittersweet, may we celebrate how God has uniquely gifted and equipped Bryan, and has been preparing him for this new incredible call.
Jason T. Smith
From Your Session:
When we recently heard the news of the Eckelmanns departure from our congregation, it was met with mixed emotions. Shock at first; followed by sadness. Then, joy; joy because we know that we have great friends in Timberly and Bryan and that God has opened a door for our dear friends at Trinity. Your leadership team is so thankful for Bryan and his commitment to St. Andrew’s. His wisdom, teaching, and friendship will be missed and the same goes for Timberly.
We are excited for the opportunity to embrace the change and follow the Lord as He prepares our hearts for every new opportunity.
Your Session Elders
Save the Date!
Mark your calendars as we will celebrate the Eckelmanns on Sunday, November 20, following the worship services. More details to come!