February 17, 2017
I wanted to take a moment to update you all about what has been going on in my life recently.
At the beginning of December, I decided to visit my doctor because I was experiencing some unusual medical issues. As a result, my doctor said that I needed to rest. I followed his directions for a few days, but after visiting another doctor, I realized that my period of rest needed to last more than just a few days. So my initial idea of a short rest needed to become more of a medical sabbatical.
As you know, the idea of slowing down, sitting still, and physically and mentally resting is not something I get real excited about, but that’s what my doctors were telling me, and so right now I am focused on resting. Lori keeps saying to me, “Arthur, you have one job. What is your one job?” I usually sigh and then say, "'rest'. Ha."
I’m improving, but I’m not back to normal yet. My doctors all tell me unequivocally, that I will fully recover in time, but in the meanwhile I need to:
-Get plenty of sleep and rest.
-Change some parts of my diet to help my recovery -- no more Big Macs for awhile :-(
-Be intentional about exercising.
I wish there was a short term fix or a pill or a shot or something, but there’s not. I’ll be better soon. Probably for the first time in my life, I am doing exactly what the doctors are telling me to do, so that I can get back to normal or better than normal as soon as possible.
One of the most difficult parts of this is that the doctors tell me that I need to retreat from New River and most other things for awhile until I get a little stronger. I hate that I have to take a short break from the people that I love so much at New River. You are my family and I love you and cherish my time with you. I miss being with you. I want to be at New River for the rest of my life, and I am doing all I can to get back as soon as possible.
You are never far from my mind, and never forgotten. I pray for people at New River every time God brings you to mind, which seems almost continuous. :-) Your kindness, grace, and understanding toward me is a testimony of your Christlikeness. Thank you! I am so grateful for you. Your prayers, notes, and cards have been so encouraging to me. Thank you!
Please continue to pray for Lori and me and for our children, Josh, Jonathan, and Hannah.
I hope to see you soon.
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:3-6
December 20, 2016
During the services on December 18th, we showed a video featuring our Pastor, Arthur Mace. In the video, he informed the church that after weeks of prayer, discussion with his family, the church Elders and the executive staff, that he is stepping back from all of the responsibilities required of him at the church. He informed the church that he is under a doctor's care and his doctor strongly recommended that he take this break immediately. Arthur stated that he is grateful for the 'folks at New River,' for their love, their support and especially their prayers over the 16 years that he has been the Lead Pastor’. As Arthur has always stated at the end of each service, 'Be strong & courageous!' Those words have always been true and resonate with even more impact and power today!
As a church, we will love, care, support, and pray for Arthur and his family during this season of rest. We want to stand strong together now more than ever as a body of believers. As Arthur stated in his video, we will continue to fulfill the mission of New River Church, "to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ." We will move forward in this endeavor with faith, hope, and trust that God will continue to rest His Hand on our church.
We want to protect Arthur's personal life and privacy, but it is important to understand that his time of rest is not due to any immorality, impropriety, or anything of that nature. His time away is solely for rest, reflection, and renewal.
During this time, we want to keep our church family updated and informed about the leadership of New River. Basically, it reads like a "FAQ."
What is a sabbatical and how long will it be?
A sabbatical is a period of time during which someone does not work at his or her regular job and is able to rest, recharge, do research, etc.
Arthur's sabbatical is indefinite. The most important issue is Arthur's health. All of us love him and want him healthy. We are not sure how long that will take, but we will keep you updated of his status. He wants to return as soon as possible and he continues to pray for people at New River, love people at New River, and he wants to continue to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
What exactly is Arthur's health status?
We need to protect Arthur's privacy as it relates to any medical condition and his health. There are legal limitations put in place such as HIPAA, to protect individuals from unnecessary health information being released. Arthur is still being diagnosed and treated, so there is no definitive medical information to disclose other than he does NOT have a terminal illness.
Who will be the Lead Pastor during Arthur's time away?
As Arthur mentioned in his video, this was a simple decision as Jesse Bowles has partnered with him since the first day of New River's existence over 16 years ago. They have served alongside each other every step of the way and this has always been the contingency plan. Arthur is confident and reassured to know that Jesse will be leading New River during this time. As most of us know, Jesse has a heart for shepherding and loving people and will do a tremendous job leading our church.
Who will be the primary teacher during Arthur’s absence?
Jesse Bowles (Acting Lead Pastor) and Bryan Bradshaw (Executive Pastor) will share the majority of the teaching responsibilities, but we expect that Jesse will probably teach 70% of the time and Bryan will teach the rest.)
Will anyone else's role on staff change during this time?
The staff at New River have always encouraged a work environment that crosses over and overlaps into each ministry department. Fortunately, ever-shifting responsibilities is a part of the staff culture, so making some adjustments to accommodate this time will not be “out of the norm.” We do expect that some things will change and will do our best to communicate those changes as they occur.
What can we do to help support Arthur, Jesse and the staff?
Arthur: Please pray for Arthur, Lori and their children. This next request is challenging, but please respect Arthur's privacy and give him time and space to rest and recover. Arthur is a pastor, and his nature is to shepherd and take care of anyone who needs his help, so if he is approached with a visit or need he will want to provide comfort and care. Providing that type of care requires energy and time, and will negatively impact his recovery.
If you happen to see Arthur or Lori somewhere please don’t hesitate to say hello and offer some words of encouragement to them. Arthur loves us and the relationships that we all share with him and with each other. If you’d like to send him cards or notes of encouragement that would be great.
Jesse: Please also pray for Jesse as he seeks God’s guidance in becoming the best leader possible for us during this time. Please be patient with him if his response time is slow. Also, his availability will be a bit reduced as he is spending more time in message preparation and staff leadership.
Staff: The NR staff will need your prayers and support especially as it relates to learning new roles and balancing new responsibilities. The staff is a strong, cohesive and loyal unit. Please pray for unity, togetherness, and continued love for each other and the church they humbly serve!
The Church: Continue to pray for each other as we stand together during this time. Focus on uplifting one another, edifying one another and being a source of comfort and love! As Jesus stated, "love the Lord your God... and love each OTHER!"
If you have been considering volunteering at New River, with the new year approaching, now would be a great time take that next step!
Please continue to give financially to the mission and ministry of New River. Alleviating any financial stress or burdens as we close out 2016 will allow us as a church to continue to move forward and carry on the mission of "leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ" in our community and around the world.
Finally, please continue to invite your neighbors, coworkers, family and friends. We consider it a privilege to partner and serve the Lord alongside you!
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us confidentially at firstname.lastname@example.org.