Passing the Baton

Pastor Brian Episcopo is God’s clear choice to be AAC’s next senior pastor.

Since 2014, the Governing Board has been prayerfully engaged in a strategic planning process to guide our future leadership transition. We have completed the “planning phase” and are moving into the “active transition” phase, which involves the entire AAC community...  
 
The planning phase revealed two distinct priorities for this transition: a) continued pursuit of AAC’s vision and b) preservation of our unique DNA/culture. During this phase, the Governing Board explored sourcing candidates internally and externally, from outside both the church and denomination. Advisors assisting with the planning phase counseled us to stay within the CMA for theological/continuity reasons, limiting external candidates to Alliance pastors only. Due-diligence investigations for outside candidates revealed that there were no external candidates that met our criteria and the very limited CMA candidates that potentially met our criteria were not willing or felt like they were not being called to be part of the process. These investigations also affirmed the talents and abilities of Pastor Brian.
 
During the execution of the planning phase—pursuing our two priorities (mentioned above) and exploring any candidate options within The Christian and Missionary Alliance—the Governing Board discerned that Pastor Brian is God’s clear choice to be AAC’s next senior pastor.
 
Because of this conclusion from phase one, we have chosen to go into the Communications Phase and then directly into the Active Transition Phase, which will last two years. The Board has asked Pastor Brian to take the helm in January 2023, which provides two years for a healthy and effective transition process.
 
The next steps involve assembling a Transition Team of individuals representing staff, ministry, and leadership to help steer this two-year process. This team will provide a roadmap for our leadership transition, including the mile-markers for communication with the congregation.  

 

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PRAYER REQUESTS

None of this could have happened without the dedicated and heart-felt prayers over the past six years. Let’s keep it up! The Governing Board is asking for focused prayer for:

  • Pastor Dennis - This will be a significant change in his life and, while he absolutely feels this is God’s ordained next step, he understandably will require our support as he steps down from being AAC’s senior pastor.
  • Pastor Brian - Both Pastor Brian and Hannah ask for prayers as they make this transition in their professional and personal lives. 
  • Governing Board - The Governing Board went into this process with eyes wide open, and even more so, focused toward Jesus. They know this decision is God’s and God’s alone. Offer praise to God that He so clearly led the Governing Board to this understanding.
  • For AAC’s Senior Leadership Team and staff, as they provide support to Pastor Brian as he steps into the role of senior pastor.
  • For our church, that God would continue to provide his blessing and protection as move into our next season of ministry

 

A MESSAGE FROM PASTOR DENNIS:

To the church family at AAC,
These past 23+ years have been nothing short of an absolute privilege for me. It has been my greatest honor to serve alongside all of you as your senior pastor. I've watched you trust God with God-sized faith—what an amazing journey we've been on!

I sincerely believe we have just begun to scratch the surface of becoming a national and global influence for Christ. As a father to Pastor Brian, I'm understandably proud. However, this decision was never about Brian, or him being my son. It was always about finding God's sovereign choice to fill the lead chair at AAC. The GB, MK Stevenson (our consultant), and Rev. Jeff Brown, representing the C&MA, have been extremely thorough and prayerful in leading the process. Brian is God's man! I believe our best years are yet ahead! Blessings, Pastor

 

A MESSAGE FROM PASTOR BRIAN:


First: Wow. What a sincere joy and humbling honor it will be to serve the families that helped raise me. Growing up in this church has given me the privilege of experiencing first-hand your care and love. Hear me: I am the product of God using your selfless love, extravagant generosity, persistent prayers, and faithful mentorship. This opportunity to serve as your pastor is validation of God using YOU. Therefore, as a product of each generation's investment, it is my sincere passion to link arms with every generation in advancing this church's vision forward. 
 
Through much prayer, Hannah and I clearly heard God's call to serve here with you. Over the next two years, I could not be more excited to see God use my Dad, and my Senior Pastor, lead us in that vision and to pick up right where he leaves off. The Gospel reminds us, our church's brightest days are ahead of us for sure. Thank you for preparing me and extending a front row seat to see all our Savior will do in and through us. I'll say it again, backwards: Wow!

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How can we support Brian during this transition?

Healthy leaders pursue ongoing development; it's no surprise that Pastor Brian has a personal growth plan in place that includes mentoring from influences both inside and outside AAC. The Governing Board will ensure he has the proper support and mentoring to become the leader God’s designed him to be. Your support and prayer throughout this time is encouraged.

How can we support Pastor Dennis during this transition?

Continually pray for Pastor Dennis through this transition and into his next season of life and ministry.

How did the Governing Board's process lead to Pastor Brian?

The planning phase focused on clarifying our needs and pursuing a wise transition process. It involved: 

  1. consulting with outside firms, other large churches, the district superintendent, and other key leaders; 
  2. establishing priorities for the leadership transition; 
  3. sourcing candidates (internally and externally); and 
  4. seeking God's wisdom and leadership throughout. Additionally, this entire process was under the supervision of our CMA District Superintendent Jeff Brown, who has been responsible for filling more than 200 pastoral positions.

Two priorities emerged in the planning phase: 1) continued pursuit of AAC's vision, and 2) preservation of our DNA/culture. These priorities led us to look within the CMA denomination. The process of sourcing candidates quickly identified Pastor Brian as both the strongest candidate and God's clear choice.

Where are we in the transition planning process?

The Governing Board discerned that Pastor Brian is God's clear choice to be AAC's next leader during the planning phase of the strategic process. In December 2020, we announced this would be a 2-year transition, with Pastor Brian taking the senior pastor role in January 2023. However, God had different plans.

Due to an accelerated timeline, Pastor Brian will become the senior pastor in January 2022. At that time, Pastor Dennis will assume the position of emeritus pastor.

 

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TRANSITION TEAM

Anne Zeamer - Communications Director
Kristine Olson - PR Consultant
Bryan Brandt - Governing Board Liaison
Leah Scheurer - Communications Lead
Rev. Dan Dinkler - Prayer Team Lead
Dr. Mark Harris - Outgoing Pastoral Care Lead
Rev. Mark Tegtmeier - Incoming Pastoral Care Lead
Bill Douglas - Staff Stewardship Lead
Carissa VanDalen - Hospitality/Key Events Lead
Belle Smoll - General
Anthony McCormick - General
Tom & Linda Kubish - Ministry Volunteers