From West Coast to West River, new pastor settles in
The Evangelical Free Church has called a new pastor. Chris Stewart drove the 1400 miles from sunny southern California to Philip over four days through California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota with his wife, Christie, and two daughters, Hannah (7) and Abby (3). Stewart and his wife were looking to move away from southern California for a number of years. Some of the deciding factors included: increasing crime, economics (including taxes), firearms laws and the inability of their daughters to safely play outside due to a recent string of child abductions.
Stewart says he and his family have enjoyed the small town hospitality and atmosphere Philip offers. “Everyone has been very generous and gracious during our move and transition from southern California. My oldest daughter is now a proud Scottie and my youngest is having fun in one of the local daycares,” stated Stewart.
Stewart served as an assistant pastor at Abundant Hope Church in Downey, Calif. for three years, an associate pastor at Trinity Baptist Church for six years and a senior pastor at Orange County Community Christian Church (OC4) in Cypress, Calif. for one year. Stewart was placed as a candidate on the Evangelical Free Church’s pastor search website. The website helps churches and pastors find each other through personality and ministry profile tests that help match candidates to potential churches. He was notified by one of the administrators of the website a position opened in Milesville and Philip, and his profile was forwarded to the church. Stewart was called to come and speak at the church in late November 2018 and was pleasantly surprised to see children outside playing and when touring the town, something almost unseen in southern California.
Like most pastors, time management is key and often difficult. Between the different programs and events at church, pastors usually struggle with private prayer and study time. Stewart says he has been blessed, so far, to have more time to focus on those aspects than at any other position he has had in ministry. Stewart is most excited about the children and young adult programs at the church. Both churches run a fun and engaging Release Time on Mondays (Milesville) Wednesday (Philip). “I am encouraged to see both the number of children, but also the quality of supervision and instruction provided by the church, plus, I know the kids like the snacks!” The other exciting program occurs on Wednesday nights when the church has their high school and young adult gathering. Stewart is encouraged to see it transform into a youth led time of worship and instruction. “The dialogue and discussion has been very informative and engaging,” said Stewart. “I look forward to starting small groups as part of the evening, sometime this spring.”
“My first Sunday at the pulpit, I feel, went well,” stated Stewart. “Although, I am still recovering from some sort of illness the entire family and I contracted just a few weeks into our move,” he continued. Stewart and the congregation have begun a journey as a church through the Biblical book of 1 John. Welcome to Philip Pastor Stewart and family!