Author photo

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor 

Sisters churches poised to reunite

 

Last updated 5/12/2022 at Noon



Sisters Community Church (SCC) and VAST Church will officially reunite on Sunday, May 22, under the name Sisters Community Church.

“It’s going to be a new church,” said Ryan Moffat, pastor of VAST, who will share pastoring duties with SCC’s Steve Stratos.

There will be a new governance structure and a new constitution — but both pastors emphasize that this is about a great deal more than formal merging of two theologically compatible churches that grew from the same root.

“This wasn’t an organizational agreement; this was a family conversation,” Moffat told The Nugget. “This was a relational move.”

The coming together of the churches marks the closing of a rift that developed a decade ago. Stratos, who was not in Sisters at the time, described the division that led many in the Sisters Community Church congregation to depart to form VAST as “a difference in how people wanted to do ministry.” And, inevitably, the pastors acknowledged, human emotions like pride cropped up.

In recent years, there has been movement to come back together.

“This really got going when Steve got here five years ago, and he and I became friends,” Moffat said.

Both men felt that the congregations belong together — they share doctrine and values — and they need each other. The congregation at SCC skews older and VAST’s skews younger.

“For the church to be a family, you need all generations,” Stratos said.

An opportunity to act decisively on tentative steps toward each other arose out of the dark days of strict COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on gatherings. VAST Church conducted its services and activities at Sisters High School. Due to COVID, use of that facility was placed off limits. The large VAST congregation had no physical home for the church.

Sisters Community Church has facilities — and Stratos and the congregation quickly came to the decision to share its facilities with VAST. Stratos said that SCC seeks to be a blessing to the community.

“We said, ‘There’s an opportunity to be a blessing,’” he said.

Moffat said that he and the congregation of VAST certainly felt blessed.

“Me and the congregation, we needed to experience the gift of humility,” he said. “Need precedes grace. What I experienced (in working with SCC) was a real, tangible experience of grace.”

The sharing of facilities in a crisis soon evolved into discussions of bringing the churches back together on a formal basis. Stratos thought there was room for the move — and it was the right thing to do.

“We have this incredible campus that we weren’t really utilizing to the degree I thought we should,” he said.

He said the matter came down to, “How could we come together to be more of a blessing to the community of Sisters?”

The churches began to hold joint services on special occasions, including Easter. While there were matters of governance and practical who-does-what questions for pastors, elders, and congregants to hash out, it became clear that, as Moffat said, “We want to be together.”

Asked what he considers to be the biggest hurdle to reunification, Moffat said, “The hurdle for any of us, straight up, is pride. We want things our own way.”

The reunification has overwhelming positive support from both congregations, the pastors reported.

To ensure that rifts do not again develop, the pastors are committed to accessible, approachable leadership, and ample opportunities for communication and feedback. They want to be sure that voices are heard and issues are addressed before they become fraught.

“We don’t want anything building up to the point where it’s at a boiling point,” Moffat said.

Stratos and Moffat are pleased to see the reconciliation of relationships and the sealing of an old rift come to pass.

Moffat reflected, “In a world of division, we have an opportunity to enjoy unity, express unity — in a world that needs to see unity.”

The 9:30 a.m. service on Sunday, May 22 at 1300 McKenzie Hwy. will mark official reunification. Guest Bruce Boria will speak on “A Dream Worth Building.”

For more information visit www.sisterschurch.com.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

Author photo

Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit www.frontierpartisans.com.

 

Reader Comments(0)

 
 

Our Family of Publications Includes:

Https://www.nuggetnews.com/home/cms Data/dfault/images/masthead 260x100
Sisters Oregon Guide
Spirit Of Central Oregon
Spirit Youtube
Nugget Youtube

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2024

Rendered 04/19/2024 09:06