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Passing the Baton
Welcome, Rev. Brian Episcopo!
We are excited to welcome Rev. Brian Episcopo as the new Senior Pastor, effective Feb. 1, 2022.
“Every time I go into the office or get on our stage, I feel the incredible honor of serving the families and the church who raised me,” says Rev. Brian Episcopo. “I am a beneficiary of the Fox Cities—our educators, our community leaders, and our church leaders—and the amazing work God can do through a local church.”
Governing Board selected Rev. Episcopo after a detailed search process that began more than 10 years ago. They explored 1.) priorities that keep Alliance Church’s vision on track, 2.) a thorough search of leading candidates, both internal and external, and 3.) God’s direction for the church’s future as they “pass the baton” to the next generation of leaders.
“Pastor Brian quickly emerged as the most qualified candidate,” says Steve Burkhardt, Board Chair of the Elder Board. “We received endorsements of his talents and abilities from our external leadership-transition consultants, our District Superintendent, Rev. Jeff Brown, and by the Christian and Missionary Alliance president, Rev. John Stumbo. As one of the largest churches in the Christian and Missionary Alliance, these endorsements only further confirmed our decision.”
Rev. Brian Episcopo’s qualifications include a calling that fits our vision, gifted preaching, collaborative leadership style, and a Christ-centered passion, all of which contributed to his success leading in a variety of roles at Alliance, including Student Ministries, Community Congregations, and his dynamic Sunday morning preaching.
“We’re excited to watch our growth continue,” says Burkhardt. “Our vision will remain the same: Connecting the world with God and one another. We believe God will use Pastor Brian to continue that work here in the Fox Cities and around the world.”
None of this could have happened without the dedicated and heart-felt prayers over the past six years. Let’s keep it up! The Governing Board is asking for focused prayer for:
Pastor Dennis—Pray for Pastor Dennis and Judy as they arrange their new schedules, responsibilities, and life in and outside the church going into 2022 and beyond.
Pastor Brian—Pastor Brian and Hannah ask to pray for God to be honored in every detail of the process and every heart that is a part of it. Pray that God would be front-and-center in the preparation at home and in the church.
Governing Board—Give thanks for the GB’s unwavering commitment to working out God’s plan and following God’s lead through this transition. Pray for continued clarity, wisdom, and unity about transition steps.
For Alliance’s Senior Leadership Team and staff—Pray for patience and peace during a time when the transition may feel unsettling. Give thanks for unwavering staff commitment to continued church operations amidst both this transition and current COVID challenges.
For our church—That God would continue to provide his blessing and protection as move into our next season of ministry
A MESSAGE FROM PASTOR DENNIS:
To the church family at Alliance,
These past 25 years have been nothing short of an absolute privilege for me. It has been my greatest honor to serve alongside all of you as your senior pastor. I've watched you trust God with God-sized faith—what an amazing journey we've been on!
I sincerely believe we have just begun to scratch the surface of becoming a national and global influence for Christ. As a father to Pastor Brian, I'm understandably proud. However, this decision was never about Brian, or him being my son. It was always about finding God's sovereign choice to fill the lead chair at Alliance. The GB, MK Stevenson (our consultant), and Rev. Jeff Brown, representing the C&MA, have been extremely thorough and prayerful in leading the process. Brian is God's man! I believe our best years are yet ahead! Blessings, Pastor
A MESSAGE FROM PASTOR BRIAN:
First: Wow. What a sincere joy and humbling honor it will be to serve the families that helped raise me. Growing up in this church has given me the privilege of experiencing first-hand your care and love. Hear me: I am the product of God using your selfless love, extravagant generosity, persistent prayers, and faithful mentorship. This opportunity to serve as your pastor is validation of God using YOU. Therefore, as a product of each generation's investment, it is my sincere passion to link arms with every generation in advancing this church's vision forward.
Through much prayer, Hannah and I clearly heard God's call to serve here with you. Over the next two years, I could not be more excited to see God use my Dad, and my Senior Pastor, lead us in that vision and to pick up right where he leaves off. The Gospel reminds us, our church's brightest days are ahead of us for sure. Thank you for preparing me and extending a front row seat to see all our Savior will do in and through us. I'll say it again, backwards: Wow!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How did the Governing Board's process lead to Pastor Brian?
The planning phase focused on clarifying our needs and pursuing a wise transition process. It involved:
consulting with outside firms, other large churches, the district superintendent, and other key leaders;
establishing priorities for the leadership transition;
sourcing candidates (internally and externally); and
seeking God's wisdom and leadership throughout. Additionally, this entire process was under the supervision of our CMA District Superintendent Jeff Brown, who has been responsible for filling more than 200 pastoral positions.
Two priorities emerged in the planning phase: 1) continued pursuit of AAC's vision, and 2) preservation of our DNA/culture. These priorities led us to look within the CMA denomination. The process of sourcing candidates quickly identified Pastor Brian as both the strongest candidate and God's clear choice.
What will Pastor Dennis be doing in his next season of leadership?
As Emeritus Pastor for the church, Pastor Dennis will continue his global work, leadership training, community representation, and preaching.
He also plans to continue to grow his workplace/work-life, executive coaching, and consulting, outside of the church, which has been a long-time passion of his.
When is this transition taking place?
Pastor Dennis' last day as Senior Pastor is Jan. 31. This marks exactly (to the day!) 25 years of ministry here. Pretty cool! Pastor Dennis will preach his last sermon as Senior Pastor on Jan. 30, 2022. However, he will continue to preach in the preaching schedule as part of his emeritus role (beginning July 1, 2022) at a reduced level.
Pastor Brian officially will become our Senior Pastor on Feb. 1, 2022. We will publicly "Pass the Baton" and celebrate together on Sunday, Feb. 6.
Where are we in the transition planning process?
The Governing Board discerned that Pastor Brian is God's clear choice to be AAC's next leader during the planning phase of the strategic process. In December 2020, we announced this would be a 2-year transition, with Pastor Brian taking the senior pastor role in January 2023. However, God had different plans.
Due to an accelerated timeline, Pastor Brian will become the senior pastor in January 2022. At that time, Pastor Dennis will assume the position of emeritus pastor.
Will there be any other staff or leadership changes with this transition?
Likely, yes. However, any good leader will first take time to assess, talk to people, and understand the roles. In order to listen and assess, Pastor Brian plans to adjust the staff structure to give more access to share their visions with him directly. He plans to do a lot of listening and assessing in his first year. Any changes to staff or leadership will be a result of this listening and assessment. As always, we’ll share changes as necessary along the way.
Anne Zeamer - Communications Director Kristine Olson - PR Consultant Bryan Brandt - Governing Board Liaison Leah Scheurer - Communications Lead Dr. Mark Harris - Outgoing Pastoral Care Lead Rev. Mark Tegtmeier - Incoming Pastoral Care Lead Bill Douglas - Staff Stewardship Lead Carissa VanDalen - Hospitality/Key Events Lead Belle Smoll - General Anthony McCormick - General Tom & Linda Kubish - Ministry Volunteers