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Friday, December 14, 2012

A Miracle in Vancouver (WA)

It's exciting to hear that the transformation/consultation process (known as 'DTP' in our district) is spreading across the country.  One such consultation recently took place in Vancouver, WA.  I thought you would be interested to see what the DS wrote about it...


In June Dr. Paul Borden led a consultation with the Vancouver Wesleyan Church (WA).  This was the first consultation on our District (Northwest).

As a result of two previous immoral incidents that were broadcast by the media from the church property, the reputation of the church was damaged in the community.  The church had also been plateaued for nearly a decade.

Dr. Borden's prescription was to close the church and begin something new.  The new would have to meet downstairs in the Fellowship Hall on Saturday night so there would be no activities on the property on Sundays.   The name of the church was taken off the front wall.  The street sign was shut down and neutralized.  The appearance to the community was the church had closed.

Another part of the prescription was to identify a Church Planter who would come to Vancouver area and start a new church.  Once the new work had grown to a larger size than the Saturday crowd we could work towards combining our existing congregation into the newer church.  It would give us a new name and new reputation in the community.

This was a difficult prescription for some and set the district churches on notice that this could happen to them too.  It was a risky step of faith but the Vancouver congregation voted to accept the prescription.

Our new Saturday service started on August 11.  The people were not enthused but compliant to the prescription.  We lost around 30 people who could not attend a church meeting on Saturday.   We went from a church of 70 to 40 overnight.

September 6 I received a phone call that led to a significant decision.  Pastor David Robinson, at the request of some people in his congregation, called to discuss the situation in the church.  I shared the story and the prescription.  He said, “We want to be the next Wesleyan Church in Vancouver.” 

We talked and set up another time to meet and walk through the property.  He had started his church 3 years previously and was running 100+ in attendance.   He had been raised in the Friends Church and was trained at George Fox College and Seminary, an approved seminary in our theology.  His independent church was willing to give up their independence to become a Wesleyan Church and include our people into their ministry.  This fit the prescription perfectly.

Dr. Borden met David and gave a “thumbs up” to the idea and included him in our cluster meetings.  The DBA gave its consent.  I led a membership class for 65 people in attendance.  This was my largest class to date.  We dated for two months with a service in October and a Thanksgiving service with dinner in November.

Sunday, December 2, Dr. Jim Dunn, Director for Church Multiplication and Discipleshi,p flew out to join the celebration of bringing Living Word Fellowship into the Wesleyan Church and to lead the reception of new members in their Covenant Membership Commitments.  170 people attended the first official service of the combined congregations. 

Our new church, Living Word Fellowship, has brought hope to our people and the District.  We now have a vibrant, flourishing congregation in the Vancouver community.

Dr. Borden’s prescription to close, as tough as it was, allowed us to become what we are today because of the miracle we experienced.

Dr. Karl Westfall
District Superintendent

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