September 7, 2019
Dear Reality Carpinteria,
Twenty-one years ago Kate and I started leading a Friday night college ministry in Santa Barbara called Reality. Eight kids were in attendance that first evening we met. We never dreamed that from that small gathering, as we taught the Scriptures, worshiped Jesus, and broke bread together, that someday there would be an actual church called Reality Carpinteria and that from that little church would come eight more reaching from Honolulu, Hawaii to London, England. Those churches now represent hundreds of baptisms, equally as many missionaries sent, and countless lives changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God has done far more than we ever imagined. In our ministry we have been able to bear witness to the Apostle Paul’s declaration in Ephesians 3:20, which says:
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
We have so much to be thankful for and to celebrate from the last twenty-one years! And now, it is with great joy that Kate and I announce that after sixteen years as the Lead Pastor of Reality Carpinteria, and as it pertains to that particular role, I have “fulfilled my ministry, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:5-7) That is to say, with humble and happy gratitude, that we are announcing my retirement as the Lead Pastor and as an elder for Reality Carpinteria.
We love this church with all our hearts. In the last couple of decades we have given the best years of our lives to Reality and we have given the worst years of our lives to Reality. It has been an honor and privilege to do so. We feel incredibly blessed to have been on this journey with all of you. Now, we sense God opening new doors and another chapter to us. Even though we know this is a big change for us as a church, and there will be many feelings to sort through with it, we want to express how stoked and blessed (and full of hope) Kate and I feel in this moment, and how much we love you all. Thank you for allowing us to take this ride with you as we followed Jesus together through thick and thin.
Kate and I will continue to follow Jesus with you as members of Reality Carpinteria living lives on mission for His glory and purposes. This is our hometown and this is our home church. As the founders (and so parents) of the church we love it like a first-born child and are so excited to get to share in its mature life in a new way, from different seats, and with a fresh perspective. Though we will no longer be responsible for Reality Carpinteria we will always be responsible to it. We believe that this church’s best years and greatest work are still ahead of us. It is every parent’s dream that his or her kid child do better than they ever did! (we believe you will!)
In the coming weeks and months our elders will share with you plans for succession and transition as they become clear; let’s all pray together to discover what Jesus our Senior Pastor has in store for His church in regard to this. In that interim period the elders will continue to lead the church and able teachers will carry on preaching the Gospel. We will also seek to discern what my voice should be at Reality Carpinteria in this transitional season. I will maintain my role as the leader of the Reality Family of Churches and in coming months the broader leadership of the Family will endeavor to discover together what shape and form this new chapter takes for us.
Thank you for being such a beautiful church. And thank you for loving us and bearing with us as we ventured to served you. We are looking forward to enjoying more of Jesus with y’all and are so happy, and so thankful for your love and support!
With joy, gratitude, and deep love,
Britt and Kate Merrick
September 7, 2019
What can I say, except I love you? Like crazy. You have fulfilled every hope I had for you before you were born. I walk through these doors each Sunday, my heart swelling with pride—the good kind. Like any mother when it comes to her children, I am proud of you. When I look around the room, a fierce love washes over me. I carry your photo in my wallet, pulling out for anyone who wants to see.
I love you, people. And I am proud of you. I am proud of the way you run with the power of God’s word, allowing it to change you. I am proud of the way you rally together and share with the one who needs or who hurts. I am proud of the way you welcome others, the way you let Jesus shine through you rather than your own goodness. I am proud when I worship with you, whether on the carpet covered in tears or in the back with hands in pockets. I am proud of the way you follow Jesus, wholeheartedly and with passion. You guys are cool.
I love you, people. I love watching the radical things God is doing through your willing hands. I mean, come on! You are hands on, planting churches, walking miles through cities, praying and praying. You are hands on, participating in giving the Gospel to unreached people, you are hands on, telling the good news to our own little community with honesty and humility. You not only show up on Sundays to worship together, but you meet during the week, loving each other with food and transparency and respect. You are a praying people, you are a worshipping people. You are a sending and nurturing and Spirit-filled people, and I am proud to be your mother.
I love you, people. Like any functioning family, the love has been generous here. You have loved us well, embarrassingly well. You took care of us when Daisy was sick, you supported us when Britt needed to extend his sabbatical. And you don’t judge me when it appears that my son doesn’t own shoes, or that we don’t own a hairbrush. Or a razor. That’s family.
This last year has been one of my personal favorites at Reality. Watching each person in this body step into their role. You guys are amazing, the way you care for each other, serve each other. The way you are supportive as we raise up new preachers, the way you step in for the children, rallying around and sacrificing your Sunday morning so that our kids grow up well taught. Each of you is important, you bring life to the body as a whole, no matter your role. Well done!
And now, as mother of this church, having seen it raised to maturity, I cannot wait to watch you flourish, to move into new spiritual territory. What will you do with your life? How far will you fling the good news? What ways will you pass up your old mom and dad in the things you are capable of? Lucky for me, I’ll be doing it alongside you.
You make me proud, Reality Carpinteria. I love you and I like you.