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Important Leadership Transition

Dear Discovery family,

We know that transition is a part of life, but here at Discovery we also understand it is the way God builds His church throughout the world. Over the past fifteen years Discovery has not only prospered in spite of transition, we believe we have prospered because of transition. God has continually blessed our open-handed attitude towards resources and people by providing all we have needed. We could recount the stories of hundreds of servants and leaders who have come to Discovery, been impacted in their walk with Christ, and were sent out to make disciples in the world. Through these years, my family has been incredibly blessed to be part of God’s movement here in Davis.

Now He is calling us out ourselves and, with a mix of sadness, excitement, and many other emotions, we are stepping forward in obedience and will be transitioning away from Discovery. On Thursday, December 1, after much prayer, reflection and conversation, I informed the elders of this decision and we jointly decided that, as of January 31st, I will no longer be lead pastor here at Discovery. My decision to resign as pastor has not been impulsive and it certainly has not been easy, but I am now experiencing the clarity, peace and excitement that comes from knowing this is God’s calling for me, my family and the church. It has been a joy to be part of Discovery for its fifteen-year history, and it has been an amazing privilege to serve as Lead Pastor over the past ten years. Through these years, we have experienced God’s incredible faithfulness and goodness together, and I am humbled by His grace that He chose to use Garricyn and me as part of this work.

My original call from marine biology into ministry came with a significant time of wrestling with God over my plans, dreams and desires. Likewise, my call to step out of Discovery has come through significant time with the Lord, with the elders, and with mentoring pastors in my life. It has been a struggle for me to let go. I love this church. I love the people. I love our God-given vision. While ministry has often been challenging, God has continually called and strengthened me to lead on. Ultimately, there is only one thing that would cause Garricyn and me leave Discovery: a new call of God.

So what is God calling us to now? First and foremost, I believe the Lord is calling me and my family to a season of renewal. Through my years of leading the church, I have often struggled to give the best of myself, my time and my attention to my family. Garricyn and the kids have always been there and supported me through this ministry, but I feel that I must now turn more of my life and my heart to them. At the same time, the growing church requires more of a lead pastor, and I cannot give my best to both needs. So I am responding to God’s call to give my best to my family and to trust Him with His church.

Discovery’s elders have blessed us incredibly and provided for a season of renewal. They have generously provided a severance that will allow us to invest more deeply in each other and to seek the Lord together. We intend to take a few months away from formal ministry after which we will more fully pursue the opportunities God lays before us. I am sensing that God may use my marine biology experience beyond the local church, and I am considering an opportunity at William Jessup University to teach full-time and accept an integral role in developing their growing, Christ-centered Environmental Science program.

We will continue to lead and worship at Discovery through Sunday, January 29. Until that time, I will work with the elders, staff and lay leaders to develop an organized succession plan under the leadership of the elders. I will preach four more times after which the teaching will transition to other staff and the elders. At this time, please direct any questions about this transition to Jake Hosier and Justin Koenigshof (EMAIL ELDERS). Please read the message from our elders to hear more about this transition for the church. Your help and participation in the months to come will ensure Discovery continues to prosper through this transition.

Garricyn and I are very thankful to God that, through His grace, He not only saved us but has used us to lead and guide His church for a season. We are completely unworthy, and any example we have provided is simply a testament to the goodness of God towards His sons and daughters. We thank you for the love and grace you have shown us and for your willingness to serve alongside us. We are grateful for the care that Discovery’s elders have supplied and we cannot express how incredibly blessed we have been through the care and provision of our church. I am thankful for each staff member and Discovery leader who committed to growing with me as we sought to share the gospel faithfully.

Finally, I want to express my deepest thanks to my wife. Garricyn has been the most incredible wife I could have asked for, a true partner in ministry and life. I cannot wait to see what the Lord will bring us in this new season. I am thankful and excited to spend this next season focused on my family. I am waiting expectantly on the Lord to more fully reveal His calling for this next chapter. I am trusting that His good work in Discovery will continue to grow as we all seek to faithfully follow His plan.

With gratitude to God and to you,

John Richert