I had the opportunity to visit Pastor Dan and Sarah Oedy at the church Dan leads in Gastonia, North Carolina (just outside Charlotte). Dan served First Church as a Christian Education Director, then attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary under our support, and eventually as an Associate Pastor with us once he received his ordination. Working with and mentoring Dan was a great joy for me. He has tremendous gifts as a preacher, communicator, and pastor—and he was wonderfully teachable.

Dan has been the Senior Pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church for seven years and has done a fantastic job of leading the church. His first task was to stabilize the congregation, which had gone through a grueling three-year interim period after their founding pastor retired. Reversing membership losses and attracting new young families, Dan and Sarah built opportunities for fellowship and Bible study and strengthened the children’s and youth ministry. Dan has also built an entirely new staff.

After restoring the congregation’s confidence and setting a course for growth, the next big step came two years ago when the elders decided it was time to build a Sanctuary. (They had been meeting for worship in a multi-purpose room attached to their gym.) The design and fund-raising began successfully, but then a global pandemic struck before construction could begin. The church members prayerfully decided to move forward with the building project, even as their church life was disrupted and moved online. Their faith and courage are now paying off as their Sanctuary and other building renovations are about to be completed. The Sanctuary is scheduled to open for worship and be dedicated on the first Sunday after Labor Day in September. It is architecturally beautiful, and the roughly 4,500 square feet will comfortably seat over 300. They anticipate the long-term mortgage to be approximately $800,000, which the congregation should be able to service given their growth and generosity.

Dan has learned a great deal through this process. (A building program is a nearly universal “rite of passage” for pastors!) He expects the church will be able to call an Associate Pastor to join his staff within the next year. Dan and Sarah’s oldest child, Graham, will be entering his senior year in high school, and their three young daughters are all doing well in school and growing up rapidly. I rejoice to see that the Lord has put Dan, Sarah, and their family in a perfect spot to flourish and to make a significant difference for His Kingdom!