A Special Announcement

Dear Friends & Family Near & Far,

Four years ago, God called our family back to Columbia, our hometown, to plant a new church. While so much about moving to Columbia did not make sense, one thing was certain – God’s clear call on our lives.

Columbia had grown and changed so much since we graduated high school. The diversity and population growth alone were staggering. But the statistic that impacted us the most was the fact that 80% of the people in Northeast Columbia are not connected to a church and likely do not have a relationship with Jesus.

God called us here to plant a church that would not compete with other churches, but rather partner with other churches to reach that 80%. As we met people who did not know Jesus and Christians who wanted to be missionaries in our city, we began to pray and consider what this church might look like.

We had to press pause on our plans in early 2009 when my Dad’s cancer returned and he passed away. This was an evidence of God’s grace in calling us to Columbia as I was able to spend some special time with my Dad in the closing months of his life. I even had the honor of preaching his funeral.

We re-grouped in summer 2009 and began building our launch team. That small, but deeply committed team, learned, served, planned, and prayed together and on September 13, 2009, Awaken Church finally launched.

In the two years since our launch, we’ve experienced lots of highs and lows together. Through it all, we’ve seen God do some amazing things.

We’ve seen over 100 people trust Jesus as Savior. We’ve celebrated with over 60 people who have been baptized. We’ve served thousands through Movies in the Park, serving projects, community groups, and partnerships. We’ve seen marriages restored, addictions broken, disciples made, leaders developed, prayers answered, families mended, and missionaries sent. God has used and is using Awaken Church to make a difference in our city.

Our mission is being accomplished right before our eyes. God is using Awaken Church to make His name great through lives changed by the gospel!

Which is why it is with mixed emotions that I share with you what God is doing in our family.

In May of this year, I was approached about an opportunity at a new church in a new city. Initially, our answer was, “No.” Even after ensuing conversations, our answer was still, “No.” But as much as we tried to deny it, the door never really closed.

At the end of the summer and beginning of the school year, it was clear that God was stirring and that we needed to be fully open to whatever He wanted. As we continued to pray and fast, it became increasingly clear that God was in fact calling us to a new ministry assignment.

In response to God’s call after weeks of seeking Him through His Word, prayer, and fasting, I am resigning as Lead Pastor of Awaken Church to accept the call to serve as Lead Pastor of North Rock Hill Church in Rock Hill, SC. My last Sunday at Awaken will be December 11, 2011.

I want to assure you that this is not the end of Awaken Church. God’s vision for Awaken Church has not changed and I believe it will go to the next level during this transition season and under a new Lead Pastor’s leadership.

I am even more convinced of this after sharing with our staff weeks ago, meeting with our leaders two Sundays ago, and sharing with the entire church this past Sunday night. The commitment to Awaken’s vision and future is remarkable.

We covet your prayers for Awaken and our family as we make final plans for transition. Please know we have not taken this decision lightly. Just as when God called us to Columbia, our aim has been to please Him. We trust His leadership over Awaken, our lives, and our new ministry assignment in Rock Hill.

In the days ahead, I’ll share more about Awaken’s transition, our family’s transition, and our new ministry assignment at North Rock Hill Church. We are sad to leave Columbia and Awaken, but we are excited and humbled by the opportunity to serve in Rock Hill.

Thank you for your friendship and partnership in the gospel!

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8 Comments on “A Special Announcement”

  1. God continues to use you mightily, Jay!

    Cheering you on, buddy!!

  2. I have no doubt that the next chapter in your story will be remarkable, Jay! Proud and excited for you and your family.

    Prayers all around.

  3. Seth Dean says:

    You need to come visit me dude! You know we live in Fort Mill. We really like the area alot! Praying for you regarding the transition. I know this is a big step for you. Call me sometime.

    706-306-1150

  4. boyd bettis says:

    Praying for you and your family bro. You’ve always been an encouragement and motivator in my life from a distance.

  5. Tim Chambers says:

    God bless you & your family Jay.I know that He will use you greatly wherever you serve.I remain thankful for your service at Center grove and look forward to hearing great things about what God is doing tyhrough your ministry. How close are you going to be to a Starbucks??????

  6. Jay Hardwick says:

    Great to hear from you, Tim! Hope you are well. Love Center Grove and pray for you guys often.

    We’re 1 mile from a Starbucks! 🙂

  7. […] this is my last week serving as Lead Pastor of Awaken Church before I transition to serve as Lead Pastor of North Rock Hill Church, I am excited and confident about her future. […]


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