Pete Scazzero (EHS) and Pastor Rich Villodas (Lead Pastor, New Life Fellowship) speak about a recent leadership conference held at New Life Fellowship led by Dr. Robert Mullholland.
I presided yesterday over the installation of Rich Villodas as my successor at New Life Fellowship Church. It was one of the highlights of my 26 years there as the Founder/Senior Pastor. An installation is like a wedding in which two parties make vows. While that analogy is helpful, I believe the term “covenant” (i.e. a solemn agreement between two parties) is a better term to use when framing a pastor’s relationship with a congregation. While a covenant is not always permanent like a vow, it implies responsibilities, obligations, and privileges. It is a promise, a trust. I learned from some of my Anglican and Presbyterian friends about their process and theology. This, in turn, helped me to shape the installation around the public making of a solemn covenant. It was deeply moving and powerful. A number of people asked me if I would make the text of the covenant agreement available. Here it. Read more.
This comes from Archbishop Oscar Romero who was killed in his church in El Salvador by a right-wing death squad on March 24th, 1980 out of his commitment to the poor. It expresses my prayer for Rich and NLF as we prepare for his installation on Sunday. A Future Not Our Own It helps, now and then, to step backand take the long view.The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction ofthe magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.Nothing we do is complete,which is another way of sayingthat the kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said.No prayer fully expresses our faith.No confession brings perfection.No pastoral visit brings wholeness.No programme accomplishes the church’s mission.No set of goals and objectives includes everything. This is what we are about:We plant seeds that one day will grow.We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold. Read more.
I have spent 26 years planting New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, NYC. That is over a quarter of a century ago. That was my assigned task from God (1 Cor. 3:5-11). It has been a great journey. On Sunday I will hand over the “watering of these seeds” to Rich Villodas, my 34 year-old successor. (I will then take my new role as Teaching Pastor/Pastor-at-Large in NLF). For months I pondered the final sermon I would offer to the NLF family. What is the essence of the seeds I have planted? What are the seeds I pray they cherish, water, and grasp more deeply in the years to come? I distilled the answer to four seeds:1. Being precedes doing2. God is hidden in the marginalized3. Race matters4. God’s ways are little and slow. Take a look. You can also download the mp3 also from the NLF website. 26 Years of Lessons at NLF from New Life Fellowship on Vimeo.
This poem by Emily Ruth Hazel, a poet in our church, was written and dedicated to us at our 26th Celebration on Sept. 27th, 2013. It captured the essence of our lives, leadership, ministry, and transition at NLF. Enjoy! “Under These Green Leaves” by Emily Ruth HazelDedicated to Pastors Pete and Geri ScazzeroPresented September 27, 2013Queens, New York City Twenty-six years to arrive atthis day. Another doorway:after all the transformationsyou have ushered us through,now we frame this space for you. What started growing years agoin a sidewalk crack in Queenshas taken hold—its rootsnow reaching deep, uplifting even concrete.The ministry you planted has becomea canopy of shade and shelter.Only God could have imaginedthese generous branches,how wide they would spread.Under these green leaves,the next generation is emergingout of this fertile ground. In the beginning, you stood aloneat the edge of what you knewas waves redefined their boundariesand brought you to your knees.You waded in and walked. Read more.
The center of Christianity is endings and new beginnings, death and resurrection, leaving and launching into new unknowns. Last Sunday, at our NLF Annual Vision meeting, I took 30 minutes to update our church on my process of transition at New Life Fellowship as I move from being the Senior Pastor (after 26 years) into a new role as a Teaching Pastor and Pastor-at-Large. It has been an awesome experience. I hope this video encourages you to be responsive to God’s invitation, at different seasons of your own life, and to let go as He leads — for the sake of His glory, other people’s development, and yourself.