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LEADERSHIP SPOTLIGHT – Redeemer Church on Mission: Unique Partnership Bears Fruit in Santa Cruz

Rob grew up in Santa Cruz and was serving as a worship leader at a non-denominational church that not only supported a vision for beginning a new congregation, but also embraced his move to the Anglican expression of faith. After five years of praying and preparing, Rob received clarity and discernment that included more than one prophetic word. Following the worship service at Faith Community Church in which he announced his plans, however, a woman in the congregation asked how two Anglican Churches could begin in the same place at the same time.

This was the first time Rob had any hint of Shawn McCain, a young man whose wife has history, roots and family in Santa Cruz, and who had been preparing to move and church plant there while at Fuller Theological Seminary and serving as an intern in a nascent Anglican congregation.

“I was confused at first,” remembers Rob, “but I called Shawn, and it went really well. We each confessed that we didn’t think the other was a total weirdo, or at least not a different kind of weirdo from each other.”

The two began to Skype regularly and get to know one another’s heart for mission and ministry. They discovered they had much in common including a passion for Santa Cruz as well as a similar vision and ideas. Each had been praying for someone to come alongside them to help bear the heavy load of church planting. They took a weekend retreat together at Mt. Hermon Conference Center, and it seemed a partnership could work well, despite the fact that it is a unique situation.

“We tried to poke holes in it and asked if there was any reason not to try,” explains Rob. They also sought counsel, and Bishop Todd Hunter asked them a pivotal question: “What would the bigger kingdom win be—two churches with two leaders or one church where two leaders join forces?”

Rob had observed from data and personal experience that church plants are more likely to succeed with two leaders.image

“Shawn and I are complementary on the Myers-Briggs scale and in stage of life. Both of us had prayed for someone to work with. There is no way we could have orchestrated this—we saw the hand and Spirit of God, and it was an exciting way to begin.”

“What struck me about church planting is that it’s only justified or needed when trying to reach the lost,” says Shawn. “Michelle and I didn’t want to provide another consumer option for Christian folks. We were looking for places that had a very unchurched population—a place that needed to be reached with the Gospel. Michelle was born in Santa Cruz—she’s fifth generation, and so this was a full circle moment for us. I had been looking for someone who knew Santa Cruz,” he continues. “It was a long connect-the-dots thing, and God was intent on leading us.

Both Rob and Shawn embrace Anglicanism enthusiastically. While young, entrepreneurial and creative, they deeply value an Anglican identity and ethos. They believe wearing their clericals makes a statement in Santa Cruz and that traditional Anglican worship offers something unique.

“The first thing that attracted me was the liturgy,” says Rob. “As a worship leader, I was searching for something easy on my soul. And the liturgy is. I also love the sacraments and the seasons of the church calendar.”

Another major component Rob values is the historic episcopacy. “I was curious about the idea of authority – who gets to say what is so, and why. I like the idea that my job is simply receiving the faith and handing it down to others. That is freeing.”

Shawn’s search began with ecclesiology – what is the Church?

“I think I was coming out of a pre-college experience of church—a feeling that there had to be more,” he explains. “I felt called to scrutinize ministry. How does the church worship? It was a total ecclesiastical interrogation. I was trying to make sense of the big picture that the Bible paints about the entire created order being reconciled to God through Christ. God was stirring me to understand the grand scope of the church and how that affects my ministry.”

The original plan was to follow a sequenced timetable of monthly informational gatherings and launch weekly services this fall. Once again, however, circumstances intervened. Rob’s tent-making job at Faith Community Church ended due to financial constraints, and a colleague pointed out some inconsistencies between vision and implementation, asking him to consider whether the Lord might be “inviting him to rethink his plans.” Shawn and his family unexpectedly moved to Santa Cruz early, and they decided to simply begin weekly services in July.

“It wasn’t as strategic as you might think,” Rob says.

imageTheir understanding of Anglicanism drove Rob and Shawn as they cast their vision for Redeemer. They are building the church on four core values of being “rooted, reverent, rhythmic and redemptive.” The response has been remarkable, but they emphasize that God is leading them.

In just a few months, the church has a strong core multi-generational membership, and new people are coming each week, and Rob and Shawn are both present in the community. They encourage visitors to meet them for coffee and talk about faith issues and their lives. Certain characteristics mark the people who are forming Redeemer’s community: they are hospitable, they want to serve and they are looking for a safe place to “sort themselves out and worship God.”

They are finding that at Redeemer. Those who worship there point to a sense of reverence and joy with a liturgy that is alive and compelling and where everyone has a role to play.

PHOTO 1: The Rev. Shawn McCain (left) and The Rev. Rob Patterson (right)
PHOTO 2: The Rev. Rob Patterson leading worship.
PHOTO 3: The Rev. Shawn McCain on All Saints Day 2012.

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