It is with heavy hearts but much peace that we write this. As many of you already know, Greenleaf has been in a season of discernment since December for the future of the church. This began because after several years of hardship and decline the church leadership began asking the question: Are God’s plans and purposes for Greenleaf complete and fulfilled? Or does God have renewed plans and purposes for Greenleaf?
In December we entered a very slow and careful discernment process with about 25 committed members of the church–we called ourselves Team Lego (long story). Angela and I are deeply grateful for and proud of everyone who embraced the discernment journey–it’s been very hard and very good at the same time. Discernment by nature can be an intimidating process because there is no formula that one can follow–the Spirit of God won’t be formulized. There are however best practices (i.e. taking much time to listen to everyone, making it safe to speak differing opinions, giving people time between meetings to pray through their own feelings and thoughts, offering our hearts to the Lord with holy detachment from the outcomes), and we have done all of these with obedience and prayer. So we are taking every opportunity to honor each person who contributed their hearts and prayers and time to this holy process.
After much prayer and conversation, knowing what it takes to offer the most basic elements of a church, we did not feel that there are enough resources (human volunteers and financial stability) to bring Greenleaf back to a place of thriving, not just surviving. The souls of our church members’ thriving is more important than a church surviving. While that is heartbreaking to us, our hearts are to see all of the good things we’ve experienced, learned, and received, during our time at Greenleaf, be taken out into the larger kingdom of God. It was not without tears and some disagreement, but the general consensus this week’s meetings was to close Greenleaf.
Yes, Greenleaf will continue to meet as per usual on Zoom for the remaining Sundays in May. And with a special closing service on June 7th. (See more info on that below).
Yes, the board has much work to do in the dissolution of the church. Please pray for us.
Yes, we really hope you all will join other local churches! You all are some truly wonderful folks, and we’re viewing this very much as a “sending out” of Greenleafers out into the broader Kingdom of God to continue the mission of God through Jesus and his local church. Here are three local churches in Chapel Hill / Carrboro that we love, have great relationships with, and can whole-heartedly recommend:
Yes, we Oteros have plans after Greenleaf. Rodger has been offered the Associate Pastor position at the Vineyard Church of Augusta, which is in Angela’s hometown. We have much family there and friends to return to. Angela plans to help Greenleaf close well, open a Spiritual Direction practice (your support there would be deeply appreciated!), and perhaps look forward to new pastoral work as the Lord gives it. (She is still feeling very called to full-time ministry!) Please keep us in your prayers. It’s very hard to say goodbye to Greenleaf–as hard or harder than it was to leave family to come to Chapel Hill in the first place. We never expected it to turn out this way, so we are still processing our disappointment, pain, loss, and grief. But know that we have great support to do that with and are feeling the Lord’s deep presence as we walk through the complex emotions. God is so faithful–I’m not just saying that.
We really hope to see each of your faces in person as soon as we’re able. It’s so very hard not to be able to look into each of your eyes and give you great big hugs–we feel that loss more keenly than you will ever know. But it is indeed good and right, even if it is deeply hard to say farewell.
Loving the hell out of Chapel Hill since 2007,
Rodger & Angela