by Lisa Tome
In its 63 years of existence, Grace Bible Chapel has had just two senior pastors.
Current senior pastor Stephen Schappert has been on the job nearly 23 years.
That's going to change this Sunday when Wayne Heffelfinger, the church's current associate pastor of worship and discipleship, takes over the job of senior pastor.
Schappert will have a three-month sabbatical, giving Heffelfinger time to settle into his leadership role. Then Schappert will return and serve as associate pastor.
Both men are anxiously anticipating their new roles.
"I'm getting old. I'm 65. It's time for new blood. I feel myself slowing down," said Schappert.
Heffelfinger, had the opportunity to be considered for the senior pastor post in 1992. He had no interest in the job at that time. Now he's ready. "When we started, we wanted to have a link to the past while looking forward to the future. He (Schappert) was the right guy for the job at that time. I never even pictured (being lead pastor) until a year ago," said Heffelfinger.
Those who attend Grace Bible Chapel shouldn't expect sweeping changes.
The church is in the process of hiring a new worship leader. That person will take over some of Heffelfinger's former duties. Pastor Rob Rohrer will remain in place as youth pastor.
Planning for the changes has been more than a year in the making. The leadership has worked to fine tune and plans to reemphasize making and growing discipleship, growing in the Lord, reenforcing the faith of the parishioners, and "expanding the kingdom of God"
In Schappert's new role, he will organize discipleship groups, teach adult Sunday school, and continue with his counseling and visitation programs.
Heffelfinger, who was unanimously selected for the post, will take over the majority of the church speaking and will also work on outreach. The two men have worked together for 23 years. Schappert said he has no plans to retire for at least three years.
Transition Sunday at Grace Bible Chapel is set for August 30 at 10 a.m. All are welcome.