What is happening?
Eugene Christian Fellowship is proposing a joining together with Mannahouse.
How did this all come about?
Eighteen months ago Pastor Gary Clark was compelled to reach out to Pastor Marc Estes, the Lead Pastor of Mannahouse (formerly City Bible Church), to seek support and guidance for the future of ECF. Pastor Gary and the ECF Elders have been searching to find the right person who could succeed him and help take ECF into the future. After some unsuccessful attempts to find the right person to assume the role of Lead Pastor, Pastor Gary felt it was time to reach back to his church family roots with Mannahouse for wisdom, counsel, and support. This connection eventually led to a conversation of ECF potentially becoming a Eugene area campus of Mannahouse. Both Elderships and leaders have spent many hours in conversation and prayer about ECF becoming part of the Mannahouse family and all unanimously agree this a God-ordained moment to further strengthen ECF and together build His Kingdom. For some of Pastor Gary’s thoughts, you can view this letter to the congregation, and also view this Sunday Morning message from Pastor Gary and Pastor Marc Estes of Mannahouse.
Who is Mannahouse?
Mannahouse (formerly City Bible Church) is a thriving and influential church that has a rich heritage of reaching and equipping people, training leaders, planting churches, and sending missionaries around the globe. The Mannahouse family has experienced the faithfulness of God for almost seventy years. They are a church family who passionately follows Jesus, loves God, and loves people from every walk of life regardless of race, gender, and age. They are a local church with a global vision. Mannahouse is committed to humbly serving and reaching people everywhere for the sake of the gospel and has gained a healthy reputation in the communities where they are established.
The Mannahouse family believes in the authority of Scripture, passionately pursues God’s promises, loves His presence, and are committed to building healthy life-giving relationships for all ages. They are a generous people who are willing to go beyond the comfortable and embrace what is new and unseen. They firmly believe in extending the Kingdom of God across the earth and equipping God’s people for the ministry. Mannahouse is a church for the journey.
Who is Eugene Christian Fellowship?
Eugene Christian Fellowship was planted by Mannahouse in 1981 with a small group of leaders and church plant team led by Pastor Frank and Sharon Damazio. Through the years ECF became a vibrant local church making a significant impact on their community and the world. In 1992, having responded to God’s call to return to Portland, Pastor Frank transitioned the church to Pastor Gary & Paula Clark, who have faithfully and successfully led the church until present.
What are some of the unique similarities between Mannahouse and ECF?
- Both church families love God and are passionate about pursuing His presence.
- Both church families love the Word of God and believe in its authority and guidance for life.
- Both families are passionate about the role of the Holy Spirit in the believers’ life and desire to see God’s power transform the lives of people.
- Both families are committed to caring for those in God’s family and are willing to do whatever it takes to take care of those entrusted to their care.
- Both families are passionate about reaching people near and far from God, regardless of their beliefs or lifestyles.
- Both families are committed to building healthy families. Marriage and parenting matter. Helping singles find purity and fulfillment matter.
- Both families understand the importance of discipleship as a key to building believers that can live victoriously in a broken, immoral world.
- Both families believe that God has a purpose for every person and desire to help every person discover that purpose and make a difference.
- Both families are committed to expanding the Kingdom of God to the ends of the earth through church planting and missions.
What does “joining together” mean?
Eugene Christian Fellowship will become one church with Mannahouse. Each location is a local congregation of believers committed to loving and serving each other and reaching their community together. ECF would remain as a local congregation as well as be identified as a part of the bigger Mannahouse Family as the Eugene congregation. There are currently six local congregations that make up the broader Mannahouse family. ECF would become the seventh congregation. All congregations have local leadership but are overseen by the existing Mannahouse Eldership. ECF will dissolve its corporation and transfer all assets and liabilities to Mannahouse, but will remain as a high priority of the larger Mannahouse Family.
What are the benefits of ECF becoming Mannahouse?
Simply put, we are better together than we could ever be apart. Both communities bring much to the table. Each ministry brings a commitment to the Word of God in our lives and the Word of God in our communities. Both bring a heart for families and the next generation while wanting to honor those who have brought us to where we are thus far. Both have a heart for local and foreign missions. We are motivated, gifted people who want to honor God by using our gifts and abilities to advance God’s purposes. Coming together as one church will bring a synergy to our ministry – using the best of both congregations to launch us toward our one goal of helping people far from God know Him and become like Him.
Mannahouse brings a strong, deep bench of seasoned leaders who have served together for decades. They have been working closely with local churches for over sixty years. The wisdom, strength, expertise, passion, and care for the local church will bring a rich deposit of health and strength in the days ahead.
Mannahouse has a rich deposit of proven ministries and resources that can help to build upon the strong and faithful foundation that make ECF a great church. Immediately, there will be the opportunity to engage the existing ECF family in ministry opportunities to better care for and build the families at ECF. The merging of both congregations will provide a strong, vibrant, and renewed church that will be a light to the Pacific Northwest that otherwise could not happen as quickly if we were separate.
What will remain the same?
Much of what is going on in both congregations will remain the same. We will continue to gather for services, youth and children’s ministry will continue to thrive, and engage in local and international missions with the same loving people and same commitment to God.
Over time, each ministry area will be assessed to enhance the strength and vitality of each ministry. Any proven ministry strategies that will be added will only help to build a stronger local community in Eugene.
What is going to change?
The most important part of this transition is to build healthy relationships with each other. It will take time to get to know each other and to build the deep healthy covenant relationships that the Lord desires. We will want to make sure that all leaders understand the needs and concerns before moving forward too fast.
There will be a few changes immediately. ECF will adopt Mannahouse’s name along with it its resources, reputation, and fruit. We will work hard to enhance ECF’s strong local church culture with the model of ministry and culture that has allowed Mannahouse to thrive. There will be a new Campus Pastor who will assume the leadership of the Mannahouse Eugene Campus and work closely with local staff, leaders, and congregation. Mannahouse has been successful at attracting young families, both churched and unchurched, so one of the biggest changes you will notice is the addition of new people.
Who will be our lead pastor?
Pastor Marc Estes along with his wife Susan are the Lead Pastors of Mannahouse and will continue to lead Mannahouse, all their congregations, and the new Eugene campus into a bright future. Marc and Susan bring complementary strengths, their love for Jesus, a love for people, strategy, leadership, developing and equipping local church leaders, and huge heart for the reaching the world for Jesus.
What role will Pastor Gary and Paula Clark have?
Gary and Paula have made a significant impact on the lives of all those who are a part of ECF and beyond. They have given their lives to serving, loving, and caring for all those in the ECF family. It is the desire of both the Clarks and the Mannahouse leadership to have them remain as an active part of the ECF family. The relationship with the Clarks and Pastor Marc Estes is healthy and together they desire to model to all those observing that it is possible to make this decision and remain as one healthy family.
Gary and Paula will want to take some time off, but are looking forward to re-engaging at some level as the Lord leads in the days ahead. For more details on this front, you can view this letter from Pastor Gary.
Will our worship services change?
Our worship services are vibrant and healthy. Much of what we do has been adopted from our church family in Portland. All services will continue to have presence-driven worship, strong Bible teaching, ministry opportunities, and a strong sense of community. You will see a change when it comes to those preaching. There will be additional teaching strength from the Portland campuses mixed with our existing speakers, sprinkled with an occasional simulcast connection with the entire Mannahouse family and all locations. In addition there may be some subtle adjustments to service agendas, most of which you may not even notice. If there need to be any differences we believe they will be updates that you will enjoy. We currently sing similar songs, preach in similar topical series and have similar ministries to children on Sundays. While there are many similarities you will sense a shift in culture and see new faces throughout the church.
What will happen to my membership?
Your recognition as a faithful member is greatly appreciated and honored. In the near future we will begin a new BELONG group that takes place on Sunday mornings and we would encourage everyone to take this vibrant class to get to know the vision and heart of Mannahouse. Please come and attend service on January 13th to continue to hear the heart and vision behind what is taking place. At some date after this service, there will be a vote by members who have fulfilled the 5 commitments of membership as laid out in the ECF membership class, to affirm what we believe is the will of God for ECF to become a Mannahouse Campus to the families in the Eugene area. Once the vote is confirmed your membership will be transferred to Mannahouse. Please know that you have the option to not have your membership transferred. If you would like to opt out of becoming a member of Mannahouse at this time please contact the church office after January 13th.
What will happen to existing leadership teams?
The ECF Eldership will be replaced by the Mannahouse board of Elders that currently serve Mannahouse according to the qualifications laid out in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. The existing Elders at ECF have done an incredible job of leading the church in the last challenging season. They are in full agreement with this move and have been given the opportunity to continue to serve as key leaders in whatever areas they feel led to serve.
The staff of ECF will continue to serve in their areas of ministry. They will integrate into the broader leadership teams of Mannahouse. They will be part of teams that will bring them added training and resources to better serve in their area of ministry. They too, will bring their strength and experience to the Mannahouse team, and be a part of impacting a broader family both locally and globally. These combined teams will form powerfully reinforced teams as we move together into the future.
What are the financial liabilities for this process?
Over the years ECF has been great stewards of their resources. They have worked hard to create a debt free environment and be good stewards of the finances that have been invested into supporting the church, its ministries, and building the Kingdom. Mannahouse has been great stewards of their resources and have also been greatly blessed as the Lord has truly supplied for all of their needs. The good news is that the costs associated with this venture will continue to be covered by the existing congregations. There will be some additional costs that will be covered by ECF. Mannahouse will continue to invest their entire staff and resources to minimize the costs.
Why have the leadership teams of both churches recommended ECF to become Mannahouse?
Both teams have assessed the long journey with Pastor Gary’s health. As much as he desires to remain in his role as Lead Pastor, he recognizes that it is not in the best interest of his own health or the health of the congregation to continue. There have been multiple attempts to find a successor, which has brought some strain on the church family. Due to a unique set of combined circumstances, all parties feel that the best future is with family. We also believe that ECF family will feel the least impact partnering with a larger church family that deeply loves and cares for them. We are a people of great faith and believe that God is leading us into this partnership. Mannahouse has tremendous momentum as a church and is excited to join with ECF in order to reach more people in the Pacific Northwest with the good news of Jesus Christ. Our future is dependent on clear vision, strong leadership, and personal obedience to follow God as a people of faith. We believe that God has presented us with this opportunity to come together and see multiplied impact for both churches. You can click here to read Pastor Gary’s personal thoughts on this opportunity.
How will I have a voice in what happens after the ECF become Mannahouse?
Much like the past years, your voice matters to us and there will continue to be much of the same leadership in place. There will also be additional leadership teams that will be there to help strengthen and support the leaders and members as we move forward. Pastor Marc has already modeled their desire to hear from the membership by hosting numerous meetings. There will also be a meeting for members who meat the 5 commitments of membership, to cast their official vote for this important decision. Members are encouraged to share their input and feedback with the Elders and pastoral staff throughout this process and in the days ahead. We are seeking to be as relational as possible throughout every stage of this discussion. The leadership team of the church is always open to emails, phone calls, and meetings in order to discuss your thoughts, ideas, and concerns.
What is the procedure and timeline for ECF to become the Mannahouse Eugene Campus?
A decision of this magnitude will take some time. You might be surprised as to how things appear to be the same for a season. The goal for both teams is to start by building strong relationships, sharing our experiences, and learning how we can work together to bring increased strength, health, and growth to ECF in all areas. There will be time to assess the greatest areas of need and work to develop ministries that fill those voids. You will be pleasantly encouraged to know that Mannahouse will continue to work with local leaders and work hard to empower them and the entire congregation to continue to build the church that God has in mind for the Eugene region.
What happens if the member vote passes?
If the members of ECF vote to finalize this historic coming together with Mannahouse, then we will begin an implementation period in the weeks following the vote. The details of this decision will take months to implement. The teams will immediately start working together to ensure that nothing is lost in the transition. We would begin meeting as one church on January 20th.
What happens if the member votes do not pass?
If ECF votes “no” to becoming Mannahouse, then the churches will not become one official family. Whether you vote “yes” or “no” on your ballot – you will remain a member of ECF under the leadership of that church. A “no” vote will cause ECF, Pastor Gary, and the Elders to begin pursuing other options to find a replacement for the future of ECF. Mannahouse would continue to relate as extended family only.
What should I do now?
- Celebrate the wonderful opportunity God has presented to our congregation.
- Pray for the leadership and staff as they work out the details of these two faithful and healthy churches coming together.
- Be sure to be part of our January 6th and 13thservices to hear more from Pastor Gary and Pastor Marc.
- Seek God’s will for the future of both churches and its impact on the communities they serve locally and globally by extending God’s Kingdom