Transition

On August 18, 2019, Tom Ellsworth announced his plans to retire from full-time ministry at Sherwood Oaks Christian Church. After 40 years of ministry (39 at Sherwood Oaks), Tom will retire on April 26, 2020. 

Scroll down to read more information about Tom's retirement, as well as the plans for Sherwood Oaks in the future as Shawn Green moves from leading our Bedford location to being the Lead Minister at Bloomington East.

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 A Letter from Tom

You know, forty is a significant biblical number. Sometimes it’s a number that represents testing, but it’s also a number that represents a generation. After forty years in the wilderness, the Israelites made it to the Promised Land. Kings Saul, David, and Solomon each reigned over Israel 40 years. To everything there is a season; and a time to every purpose under heaven.

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens

So, at the end of April next year, I’m going to step up to a new calling in retirement. This is my choice and it’s the right thing to do; the elders and I have been working on this idea and plan for over two years. No one has asked me to step down; this is my desire.

Read Tom's Full Letter

A Letter from the Elders

Dear Sherwood Oaks Family,

For four decades, Tom Ellsworth, in partnership with the Elders, has led Sherwood Oaks Christian Church. The amount of love, energy, and passion he and Elsie have poured into Sherwood Oaks is truly astounding and represents a lifetime commitment of pursuing the fulfillment of God’s will for Sherwood Oaks. Tom has decided that April 26, 2020, in his 40th year, is the right time for him to retire and transition to a new role in his life that seeks the joy and excitement of new beginnings. The Elders are united in our view that although we are sad to see Tom retire, we are overjoyed to see what God has in store for Tom, Elsie, and Sherwood Oaks. The Elders have been prayerfully preparing for this God-led transition and with Tom’s endorsement are excited to recommend Shawn Green, our Bedford Campus Pastor, as our new Lead Minister. Shawn’s qualities of servant leadership, love for God and his compassionate spirit will be a tremendous gift to the body of Christ as he leads here at Sherwood Oaks. A congregational affirmation will take place next spring. Tom and Shawn are committed to working together through this season of change with the grace and wisdom provided by God. Please be praying fervently for God’s presence and that his will be done throughout this period and specifically for Tom, Shawn, their families as we collectively embark on this exciting time in the life of Sherwood Oaks.

In Him,
Andy Allard
Elder Chair

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When is Tom's last Sunday?

April 26, 2020

Q. Has Tom felt pressured to retire before he was ready?

No. He initiated these discussions and has been working with the elders on this for well over a year. He confident in the leadership of Sherwood Oaks. He may be retiring from his current position but not from serving in the Kingdom.

Q. Why was Shawn asked to be the next Lead Minister? Was he hired for this reason initially? Were there other candidates considered besides Shawn?

Lead Minister transitions in larger churches always bring challenges and opportunity. Successful churches have often selected, equipped and empowered the right internal candidate. In light of this, Tom and the elders felt that it was important for the next lead minister to be someone already trusted and known by the congregation and leadership. While Shawn was hired to lead our Bedford campus and our One Life initiative originally, it became apparent that he had both the skills and the heart to be the next lead minister of Sherwood Oaks Christian Church. Over the past 5 years, other candidates have been considered, but there was never a formal application process as an internal candidate was preferred.

Q. Why is there such a long transition time?

This process and timeline has been developed for many reasons: To allow Shawn and Amber ample opportunity to develop deeper relationships at Bloomington East and transition from our Bedford community well. To allow Bloomington East and all our campuses to get to know Shawn better.. To allow time for the transition in leadership, preaching and staff development to happen gradually and intentionally. To allow Tom & Shawn time to work together to ensure the continued mission and vision of Sherwood Oaks. To allow time to celebrate Tom and Elsie and their amazing contributions to Sherwood Oaks, Bloomington, and God’s Kingdom as a whole.

Q. What will Tom do post-retirement?

Tom is exploring ways he can write more and use his experience with Sherwood Oaks to help and encourage other congregations in the Kingdom! He and Elsie are planning on staying in Bloomington but will be away from Sherwood Oaks for a time after April 26, 2020. Eventually, they look forward to re-engaging and calling Sherwood Oaks their church home.

Q. What is the plan for the Bedford Campus?

Tim Thompson has loved the Bedford community for years, feels like it where God is calling him to be, and is invested in making it great for years to come. He will transition to the role of Campus Minister for our Bedford location in April, 2020.

Q. What will the transition between Tom and Shawn look like in the office? In the pulpit?

We're still finalizing details, but expect to see Shawn leading more both in the office and in the pulpit beginning this fall (2019)

Q. What will happen with worship at East when Tim begins transitioning to his new role in Bedford?

Tim will begin weekday work in Bedford in the fall, while still serving as the East Worship Minister. We have hired Quentin Bemis to be the new East Worship Minister, and he will start in September 2019. At that time, there will be phasing in time for Quentin and transition time for Tim.

Q. Does there need to be a congregational vote to approve Shawn and Tim's transitions? When will that happen?

Yes, our by-laws require this for the Lead Minister position. But further, Shawn requested this as a condition in accepting the role. He loves this church and wants to share in a mutual excitement for the future with our congregation. There is not a need for a congregational vote for the role of Campus Minister. We are thankful for the wonderful leaders, volunteers, and staff at our Bedford Campus who have expressed excitement to continue with Tim’s leadership into the future.

Q. Elsie currently serves as our Premarital coordinator for Sherwood Oaks. Will she be retiring from staff in April 2020, as well?

Elsie and Tom are currently working out the details of her transition away from staff, as well.

Q. Will there be an opportunity to celebrate Tom & Elsie and their long ministry at Sherwood Oaks?

Yes, we are planning ways for the congregation to say Thank You and celebrate this spring. Stay tuned.

Q. How can we partner with Shawn & Amber and their girls during this transition time?

Great question! Look for opportunities soon to get to know Shawn, Amber and the girls better and support them through this transition time.

How will this transition affect Sherwood Oaks?

Like with any transition, some change is inevitable. But our to be a church of people helping people grow generations of Christ-led influencers will not change. We will continue to focus our mission and vision on loving God’s people, loving our community, and building up future generations of believers. No matter who is leading Sherwood Oaks, Jesus and his life-giving, life-changing message is still our number one priority. That never changes. If you have additional questions, feel free to email us below.

 

Still have questions? Want to reach out to the Ellsworth or Green families? Just fill out the form below!

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