During the duration of the transition period, the College Heights Eldership has committed to bi-weekly updates. There may be weeks where the announcement is not posted due to technical difficulties.
The "Annual Thanksgiving Dinner" was an all-church fun night honoring Randy & Julie Gariss and their 33 years of ministry at College Heights.
Our College Heights Family and Friends,
For those who were able to join us on Sunday morning, we express our pride in you for the honor, kindness, and understanding shown to Randy and Julie. You helped create a special memory.
We realize not everyone was able to be present, so let's take a moment to bring you up to speed:
- Randy has officially resigned, but he will continue to preach until late April or early May. A day for celebration of Randy and Julie's ministry will be announced in the near future.
- Randy and Julie have accepted a position at Ozark Christian College to be the Directors of a Life and Ministry Preparation Center, though the official title is still under construction.
- Randy and Julie will continue to call College Heights their home. We welcome them with open arms and are committed to walking beside them.
- Our leadership will lead the search for a new preaching minister, but Mark Scott, Director of the Preaching Department at OCC and part of our College Heights family, will be our interim preacher. More on this will be announced soon.
We are incredibly thankful for Randy's leadership, integrity with Scripture, and an authentic example of following after Jesus.
Thank you for joining us on this journey. We are excited about the future and at the same time give thanks for a blessed past.
Dear College Heights Family,
There is a scene in the book of Acts that has always captured my heart. There is a tender beauty in it. It is a group of men gathered on a beach: arm in arm, praying, saying thank you to each other, and pledging whatever the future holds...pledging it to God. They laughed and told stories and cried as they talked and remembered riots & conversions & lessons & leaders & people they loved. In that scene Paul and the elders of Ephesus are taking the separate journeys that God has for them.
That tender, wonderful scene is in some way being played out here at College Heights today. A group of people who deeply love each other have separate journeys to take.
I am announcing the closure of my preaching ministry here at College Heights.
It seems as if God has prepared a new journey for Julie and me...one where the next set of years will be spent in discipling young adults, who were just like we were 40 years ago. Forty years ago we were the ones going into ministry and we desperately wanted someone to help us. Julie and I will be employed by Ozark Christian College to pour our lives into young adults just starting their ministry lives.
I can tell you what this emotion feels like today. It is like the days that I stood at the end of an aisle with a daughter on my arm about to give her away to a great man...I could not be more joyful or happy, yet, it was such a collision of emotions...because I had so deeply loved the last chapter.
And it is like the day that you packed your kids off to college or their new life...you were so proud of them and wanted them to have a grand life, but yet you stood in an empty bedroom and cried.... Because you loved this last chapter and hated to see it end. That is what today is like.
If you will have us, as a family, Julie and I would still like to be part of this family. We want to worship here, serve here, and be part of what God has in store for this place, and you His people.
A natural question might be Why?, or perhaps, Why Now?
I think there are two answers:
First, God has always given me the conviction that somewhere in my early 60's it would be time to step away from this type of ministry. Being the lead preacher of a large church involves wearing multiple hats: preaching, teaching, discipleship, pastoral care, administration, budgets, staff oversight, and team leading. Some of those "hats" seemed right when I was younger... but the older I get, the faster the hourglass of my life runs, and I know what matters most to me.
In the last couple of years I have been drawn to discipleship, mentoring, teaching, and pursuing the next generation. I resonate with David in a very personal prayer that he records in Psalm 71:
"When I am old, please do not forsake me, my God, not until I declare your power to the next generation, your glory to all who are yet to come."
I am at a stage in life that my passion is to see that the next generation does well. The other hats are important, but they are better for other men to wear right now. I am more passionate about ministry than I have ever been...but God's journey now for Julie and me is one of discipleship and mentoring.
The second reason for Why Now? is for you.
Thirty-three years ago a young man was allowed the privilege of joining a team that was turning the world upside down for Christ. It is impossible to tell you how grateful I am for that opportunity. It was the greatest privilege I have ever had in my life.
That grand adventure changed our lives, changed this community, changed things in dark places around the globe, and advanced the Kingdom of God.
And as good as the past has been...God does not live in the past. He is always raising up new tasks, and new dreams, with new people. You need to live out what God has in store for your next 30 years.
Another young man and this current team need the same privilege.
I don't know who God has in store for you, but there is a great team he is about to join, and he is going to get to work with an incredible church.
Parts of this, I know how to say. The part I don't know how, and probably emotionally and physically can't, is the part that says "thank you". You have no idea how deeply grateful we are. You have loved us and you are our family...and you always will be. Our children love the Lord and have a passion for the church because of this church family. Our whole world is better because of this church.
If I had any request, it would be for you to live out the task and dreams God lays out before you. Make your church family your priority. Make a commitment to one another, a commitment that you will pray, love, serve, and bring these people into your life.
I will be preaching and serving here until the first part of May, and then Julie and I will begin our new roles July 1st with Ozark Christian College.
So we end this where we started 33 years ago..."Take good care of one another!"