“Hi I’m Craig Carter of the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church and I’m joined by my fellow pastor Rudy Olivo, who leads our ministries at the Fusion Campus. One of the things I’ve learned about the Christian faith over the years, both from scripture and my own experience, is that it is a journey. We serve a God who is always on the move and if we want to walk in step with Him, we too have to move and change. Rudy is going to share a little bit about a change that’s coming in his life and how it affects our ministries here at the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church.”
Rudy: “Thanks Craig. Since 2015 my family and I have called Lynn Haven Methodist home. We love this church and have been proud to be here. We came to this church when I was on an active duty order at Tyndall and we worshiped here as part of the community. When that order came to an end, July 1, 2016, I was thrilled when the bishop appointed me to be the Fusion campus pastor. During the last two years as the Fusion campus pastor, I’ve seen God do incredible things through our church, especially at our little outpost that is Fusion. I’ve seen people come to faith in Christ, I’ve seen increase in discipleship, we’ve seen our number grow on Sunday mornings and I’ve also been really honored to be part of the team that has transitioned the way that we’re doing our whole recreation enterprise, so that we can be financially healthy and also connect for kingdom growth to the worshiping body. And as much as I’ve loved all of that time at Fusion, I’ve also been actively working at Tyndall Air Force Base as a member of the National Guard. On a normal week I’d work one to two days at Tyndall and go back and forth between both places. Several months ago while I was working at Tyndall I was extended an opportunity to return to active duty work at Tyndall Air Force Base. After prayer and consideration, my family and I decided that it was not the time and God was not calling us there. Recently, however, in April, I was extended a second opportunity to consider yet another job at Tyndall. After prayer, consideration and earnest deliberation, we came to the point where we really believed that God is calling us to make that move. And because we believe God is in this, and because we do want to follow Him in this journey of life, we have decided to take the next step and return to full time Air Force ministry July 1st. Now here’s the deal about following God, anytime you do it amazing things are going to happen but it doesn’t always mean you’re never going to have life without a heavy heart. So it is with a heavy heart that I am aware that my days as the Fusion Campus Pastor are coming to an end and I wanted to let you know that this was not an easy decision because of the special place that we have in our hearts for all of the ministries of Lynn Haven Methodist Church. Now while that heaviness is there, I’m also happy to report that my Air Force assignment will have me here at Tyndall, which means my family and I will continue to get to worship as a part of Lynn Haven Methodist Church, although most Sunday mornings you’ll see us over here at the Transmitter Campus. Now we know transitions come from God and we don’t always know what the future will hold, but what I do believe is that this is the right place to be in mission and ministry. I look forward to continuing in mission and ministry with you in this new role and living into God’s truth that the best is yet to come.
Craig: “Well Rudy, first of all, I am truly grateful for the incredible leadership you’ve given to our Fusion campus over the last two years I’m especially thankful that you and your family are going to continue to be a part of the Lynn Haven church family. We look forward to your participation in the life of our congregation and, in particular, Rudy you’ve made some great connections with the military community here and those are going to continue to grow. We look forward to shared ministry as we seek at the Lynn Haven Church and the Fusion Campus to minister to our military community at Tyndall and the Naval Base. Now with this change of Rudy going to full time chaplaincy, it means that we’re looking for a new leader for our Fusion Campus. As a United Methodist Church, we do not hire our own pastors and I’m also thankful to report that we don’t get to fire our pastors either, praise the Lord for that. Instead, our resident bishop appoints the pastoral leadership of each local United Methodist Church. So, when we received the news of this change coming in Rudy’s life and ministry, he and I went to our District Superintendent and former pastor of this church, Doug Pennington. We told him about the move that was coming and also made some suggestions about a suitable replacement. He in turn took this matter to Bishop Graves and his fellow cabinet members and I am happy to report that effective July 1st, Chris Ackerman is going to be appointed to the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church staff as our Fusion Campus Pastor. Chris has a variety of experiences in the local church as a youth director, a coordinator of discipleship ministries, and he’s presently serving two United Methodist congregations in Jackson County. Chris is finishing up his theological studies at Asbury Seminary and he already lives with his family right here in Lynn Haven. So, Chris, welcome to the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church staff and we look forward to your ministry as our Fusion Campus Pastor.”
Chris: “Well thank you Craig. I can’t begin to tell you how excited my family and I are. My wife, Angie, our daughters, Bethany and Grace, are ready to meet everybody and get to know everyone and continue the ministry that’s been started by those like Rudy and those who have gone before him. We’re just excited as can be to be a part of the family. It’s such a blessing for us from God. Like you said, we live right here in Lynn Haven. We’ve been here for close to ten years now so this is a perfect fit and feels like a God ordained thing for us. We’re excited about it.”
Craig: “Well I know that is surprising news for all of you. It’s surprising news for the three of us as well because the scenario we just described has unfolded just over the past few weeks. But as both Rudy and Chris have said, we believe that God is in this and that God is going to use this to advance His kingdom’s work in a variety of different places. So, in the coming days you’re going to hear more about the transition but for right now I want to invite you in join me in praying that God’s will might be done for the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church, for the Fusion campus, for both Chris and Rudy and their families and ministries and all parties concerned. Let’s pray…
Dear God, our Heavenly Father, we are thankful for all that you have done up to this point and all that you continue to do through our lives and our shared ministry together. Lord, as we go through this time of transition we pray your blessings upon every person that’s involved. I pray for Rudy and his family as they transition back into full time chaplaincy. I pray for Chris and his family as they join us here at the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church and at the Fusion campus. I pray for the churches that Chris currently serves, Shady Grove and Grand Ridge. Lord, I pray that your kingdom’s purposes will be served in all places and at all times. Lord, we entrust our lives into your care and pray that your kingdom would come and that your will would be done. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. “