After much prayer and processing, Pastor Ricky and his family have determined that his season of serving as the Youth Pastor over our UTURN youth ministry has drawn to a close. Though his passion and desire to serve the youth of our church has not diminished or changed, his capacity to walk out those passions has been severely impacted by his health and battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). For more details on Pastor Ricky’s transition, read his letter to our congregation and watch the portion of our recent service on July 16th dedicated to this special announcement below.


Pastor Ricky's Letter to The Sanctuary

July 16, 2017

Church Family,

After much prayer and processing, my family and I have decided that my season of serving as the Youth Pastor over our UTURN youth ministry has drawn to a close. My passion and desire to serve the youth of our church has not diminished or changed, however, my capacity to walk out those passions has been severely impacted by my health.

Four years ago, I began exhibiting symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and was officially diagnosed in March of 2014. RA is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own tissue, primarily in the joints of the body, causing painful swelling, bone erosion and joint deformity. This degenerative condition has translated into me being in pain almost every day for the last three years which has affected me personally, my family and my ministry. Although I have been open about the presence of this disease in my life, I have not often shown how it affects me, given my desire to not to be “owned” by the disease. However, what most people don’t see is the toll this has taken on me, examples include:

  • needing to take many sick days to recover from normal ministry duties

  • depriving my family and children of my mental and physical presence when I come home from work because I need to sleep and recover

  • needing to cancel UTURN events and meetings because I am not physically able to attend or participate

The decision to step away from my role has not been made lightly or quickly however, given the above, continuing to serve and meet the typical day-to-day demands of youth ministry would be foolish on my part and, ultimately, would not be healthy for me, my family, or the youth of our church.

Additionally, I want to be clear on what this decision is NOT:

  • It is NOT about my job performance as a Youth Pastor

  • It is NOT about sin or a moral failure

  • It is NOT about any conflict, agenda, or ministry difference between me and The Sanctuary

  • It is NOT about discipline or a punitive action

  • It is NOT about a lack of desire or being called away from our church

My family and I still consider The Sanctuary our church home and the next generation our primary ministry and calling. As of now, we do not feel called away from either. Coming to terms with this new reality has not been easy. However, as we cross this new horizon line in our lives, we are open to whatever and wherever the Lord will lead us in ministry and service to Him. In the next few months Kendall and I will continue to do what we can to serve UTURN in whatever capacity that will allow us to function in health, both physically and emotionally. We will continue to seek the Lord for clarity as to how He is calling us to serve in this new season.

Additionally, it is important that you know that, through this whole process, and through this decision, The Sanctuary has truly been a safe place for us to grow. Even as we walk out this transition, it’s no different - the church is not only FOR us, but standing WITH us. Beyond the love, care and prayers, the church is providing three months of full income beyond my employment and generous long-term disability coverage that will greatly aid our family financially in the months and years ahead.

Please be praying for the Stoners as this decision, right as it may be, was a very difficult one to come to and an even harder one to walk out. Please be praying for UTURN for what and who this next season will bring. And please be praying for me personally that God would bring healing and wholeness to my body.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Surrendering it all to Him,

Pastor Ricky