Change to ECO
In the fall of 2012 the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church was destined to be abandoned. Our pastors, Dan and Kathy Schwan were retiring, we had dwindled to 30 members. We were members of the San Joaquin Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church USA. According to some of those Presbytery members, our church was just too small to continue.
Before Dan and Kathy retired in January 2013, Dan had researched other Presbyterian denominations and had recommended that we leave the Presbyterian Church USA and join the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians, ECO. ECO was just getting organized and it looked like a very good fit for our church. The huge question was: Where do 30 church members, a church building and a community in need find enough support to continue? The members decided to elect a search committee, hire Sunday preachers to fill the pulpit and PRAY A LOT for God’s help. The ECO sent ambassadors to help with our transition as well.
On a bright warm Easter Sunday in 2013, the service was conducted by Ian Hodge, one of our Sunday preachers. He had heard of the vacancy in Lemon Cove from a pastor in Exeter while Ian and his family were staying with his in-laws. By July of that same year, the congregation met with Ian and Mikaela Hodge. All of the needs of the church were discussed. The Hodge's were very well received and by August, Ian was our new pastor.
In November the San Joaquin Presbytery gave dismissal to the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church and we joined ECO.
The Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church could have languished for as long as two years searching for a pastor, as had the last three pastor searches. God stepped in and allowed us to find a bright young pastor willing to assume the job. God directed us to ECO. God totally renewed our membership with enthusiasm and the Holy Spirit and is still moving to grow our membership numbers. God’s hand guided everyone to adopt a “work in progress” attitude and brought revival to this small church. There is no better example of God’s work in our lives, than for us to be looking at our next chapter of ministry in this church.
It was during our congregation’s time between pastors where our growth became significant. The desire to keep the church going was evident by the commitment from volunteers inspired by the Holy Spirit to reach maybe just a little farther than we might have felt comfortable, by not only leading our Worship Committee, organized by Dan Schwan, but several members of our congregation as well, to play a vital role in the workings of the church. We’ve embarked on projects made possible by the generousness of contributors to the Project Fundraiser for the remodeling of our kitchen, adding a covered patio area, installing a new children’s play structure as well as plans for redesigning our parking lot restoring the walkway and adding a retaining wall and lighting. Though hurdles have been placed before us (God doesn’t always make things easy) and the lessons we have learned from each other, the members, both old and new, have jumped right in and contributed their God given talents and knowledge for God’s will in this place.
We are so grateful from the origins of Reverend Blair and Reverend Hoffman as well as our co-pastors Dan and Kathy Schwan and our interims and it was God’s perfect timing for the needs of His church that our current pastor Ian Hodge and his wife Mikaela and their family joined with us as we moved to ECO.
God has always been at work in our church!