To Whom It May Concern:
It has been my privilege, honor and a true blessing to have had the opportunity to get to know and work with Reverend Doctor Keith Copeland as he has served as our full time interim pastor at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in China Grove, NC over the past two years. Pastor Keith has been a tremendous asset to our family in Christ at St. Marks as we have “wondered in the wilderness” after our last pastor left our church. As a called interim pastor, Pastor Keith has a unique, distinct and tremendously successful approach to helping congregations find their way through the often difficult time frame from losing a pastor to calling a new one.
Pastor Keith is a dedicated, focused, serving, loving and giving man of God who has many gifts in helping and guiding a congregation through its “wilderness” in finding a new and exciting path in serving God and developing the process of beginning to search for a pastor, including but not limited to:
Defining, facilitating and completing the process of the existing congregants truly getting to know each other once again and working together in rebuilding an understanding of who we are as God’s children and servants
Understanding both individually and collectively as a congregation where we are in our spiritual journey and life
Learning our God given talents and capabilities in sharing God’s love in the local community
Through multiple “café” style gatherings of the congregation, creating a pastoral search process which effectively marries the strengths, talents and capabilities of our congregation that God has helped us discern and the skill sets, capabilities and strengths that a pastor can bring to our congregation and the community at large
Helping establish our call committee process on the simple, yet essential foundation of discerning God’s will.
While doing all of this, Pastor Keith has served wonderfully and skillfully in all traditional pastoral duties including working with our church council and redefining our committee process, leading our worship service and preaching God’s word in such a meaningful and special way that encourages us to remain focused on and living God’s story in our daily lives, visiting the sick and homebound and leading marriage and funeral services. It is amazing how he has been able to lead the daily life of our congregation and help us bridge the loss of a pastor to the call of a new one.
On a final note, in two short years, Pastor Keith has not only become a hugely important faith mentor in my life, but a mentor as a friend as well. We will miss him terribly, but the next congregation that secures his services will be blessed in so many ways and I recommend Pastor Keith to any and all congregations that are in the process of finding the way through “its wilderness”.
I first met Pastor Keith Copeland after our previous pastor had given notice that he was leaving. I was President of the Church Council and led the effort to find an interim replacement. We decided that we would try to hire a part time pastor to basically keep things going and fulfill ongoing pastoral needs. This approach seemed to make sense, allowing us to save money and catch up on our finances.
When interviewing Pastor Copeland he introduced us to the concept of “Intentional Interim Ministry”. We were so inspired by his interview we offered Pastor Copeland a full time interim position. I had no idea at the time what a wonderful decision that would turn out to be. This started an incredible, exciting and challenging period in our Church’s growth. Under Pastor Copeland’s leadership our church began a much needed healing process and developed a much stronger sense of Christian unity.
Pastor Copeland led us in a series of gatherings involving all members from all services to help develop our mission and institute the “Rule of Love” that guides our behaviors and responses within our congregation and our community. Our church experienced an incredible amount of Christian growth and so did I on a personal level.
Pastor Copeland has been called and excels at this incredibly important part of transition called Intentional Interim Ministry. Mt. Hermon Lutheran Church was truly blessed to have Pastor Copeland guide and lead us through this turbulent time. We are now prepared to enter the next chapter of our Christian journey as we call our next full time Pastor.
Former Council Chair
Mt. Hermon Lutheran Church
During the year of 2011, my church was in turmoil. We wanted to move in the direction that we felt God wanted us to go but we couldn’t let go of our past; we couldn’t get past our internal conflicts; and we kept stumbling over obstacles that we thought were significant. We didn’t know where to turn. Our pastor had moved on to another church and that left us without spiritual guidance. We were lost. Our church had always been very active in God’s community but even that was beginning to suffer. We knew that we had to heal but we didn’t know how. We didn’t know it at that time but we were about to enter our “Golden Moment”. We began the search for a new pastor that would guide us to where God would want us, but what about all of the things that were holding us back. Would they not still be in the way when our new spiritual leader came? We had many emotions that needed to be dealt with and put behind us before we extended a call to another permanent leader. That is where Doctor Copeland came in. He helped my congregation to shift our focus to the love that we had for one another, our community, our world, and most important to God. We realized that when we focused on the love of God that there really weren’t any obstacles in our road of transformation. Doctor Copeland has helped us to prepare for our new permanent pastor. Our road lies before us and we are prepared to take the trip. The world is a much better place when you look upon it with love rather than focusing upon the negative energy that throws obstacles in your way. I believe that all churches should be in a constant state of transformation to successfully spread the word of Christ. To do this every church needs to know where they are and where they are going or they will become stagnant and they will lose their focus. Thank you Doctor Copeland for helping us to realize our potential by recognizing what has been holding us back, and turning our potential into kinetic, or active, energy. It scares me to think of what might have been if we had not taken advantage of the “Golden Opportunity” that was before us.
Mt. Hermon Lutheran Church
THE GOLDEN MOMENT
Pastor Keith was Intentional Interim at Mt. Hermon Lutheran Church for a year and a half (2010-2012). He was instrumental in helping our congregation move through the various stages of: a pastor leaving, discovering again who we are now as a congregation, and looking at where we are called to go and grow in the future. He helped us find our “verb” which is God’s mission for us. Mt. Hermon’s mission is to “Inspire God’s Community!” He helped us to identify how we inspire God’s community and then look for ways to do that in everything we are about.
Mt. Hermon is now getting ready to call a Pastor. We are truly ready. We are a healthier congregation because of what Pastor Keith has helped us with. Pastor Keith was not afraid to speak truth with love; he helped us identify areas of healing that were needed (and we are working on these) and he helped us to write “The Rule of Love” which will help us love one another on the journey. Of all the things Pastor Keith accomplished, the “Rule of Love” was the greatest gift as it helps us address issues with one another in a loving, but real way, and he helped us discover a tool for loving behavior for the future.
They say hindsight is 20/20. In hindsight, I am so thankful the council at Mt. Hermon had the wisdom to choose a full time Intentional Interim, especially Pastor Keith. It has been an enlightening journey, a growth filled year and a half, and we feel more than ready to begin a new journey with a new Pastor!
Linda Beauregard, SFO
Coordinator of Ministry,
Mt. Hermon Lutheran Church
Mining the Golden Moment - Testimonials