To: The Saints in Carpinteria, the Coastlands, and beyond
From: The Reality Carpinteria Elders, The Reality Family Council, with the Realty Carpinteria Board of Trustees
Through the past 17 years, God has done so much through Reality Carpinteria and all the men and women who have served so faithfully. And now the church is at a turning point in its history. The past few years of transition have been difficult, and now we find ourselves at a pivotal moment regarding Reality Carpinteria’s leadership and direction. In this matter, we seek to move forward in faith, humility, and love, believing that Jesus has good plans for his church and everyone involved.
In the Fall of 2019, after 20 years of full-time pastoral ministry, Reality founder and Reality Carpinteria’s Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Britt Merrick retired from Reality Carpinteria. Without an agreement on a definitive transition plan, the Elders asked staff member Beau Bekendam to take up the regular teaching duties, as he had done the previous year. Beau was subsequently made an Elder as they continued in a transition season. The goal was for the Elders to eventually appoint a new Pastor for Preaching and Vision. However, conversations among the Elders soon revealed several points of strong disagreement and division:
On these matters, there was a sharp disagreement and division among the Elders; Todd Branning, Tyler Morgan (who has since stepped down), Matt Smith, and Beau Bekendam. This disagreement also spread through some of the staff, and elsewhere within the church.
And so, in the fall of 2020, unable to agree, the Reality Carpinteria Elders asked the Reality Family to help them move forward with a decision. Reality Family Lead Pastors, Tim Chaddick, Dave Lomas, and Jeremy Treat formed an interim council to assess the ongoing disagreement among the Elders, and to recommend a way forward in appointing a new Reality Carpinteria Pastor for Preaching and Vision. The role of a council, for this reason, has always been practiced in the history of the Reality Family of Churches, whether in a new Reality church plant or in the appointing of a new Pastor for Preaching and Vision of an existing Reality church.
After subsequent meetings with the Reality Carpinteria Elders, and through prayer and discussion, the Reality Family Council made an official recommendation to the Reality Carpinteria Elders: A new Pastor for Preaching and Vision should be appointed, and Beau should continue his development on staff, as the Council did not view him as being qualified for such a position, at this time. If the Reality Carpinteria Elders were unable to come to an agreement on the Council’s proposal, the Council recommended that the decision be taken to the Board of Trustees.
After months of discussions, the Elders could not come to a unanimous agreement on the Reality Family Council’s proposal. Matt Smith was in favor of accepting the proposal, while Beau Bekendam and Todd Branning, were not in agreement with the proposal, believing that Beau should take up the primary position of leadership, as they believed it would best serve those regularly attending Reality Carpinteria. Subsequently, the Board of Trustees were in favor of accepting the Council’s proposal.
Because the disagreement on these issues ran so deep, and without resolve, a new course needed to be set. After a lengthy process, the Elders, the Board, and the Council have come to a unanimous agreement.
We believe the best way forward is for Reality Carpinteria to be replanted, and for Beau to lead a new congregation.
The above two points of disagreement were significant enough for the differing parties to agree to disagree, and peaceably go on as two congregations, seeking to honor Christ and his people in the process.
This decision, made as a result of this process, is massive, and we recognize its weighty implications. And though the disagreements remain, there is a mutual commitment to move forward in a way that can honor Christ and best care for all the people.
This way of moving forward allows Reality Carpinteria to begin a new season within the Reality Family of Churches, and for Beau to lead a congregation. This decision provides the opportunity for those who desire to have Beau as their pastor, to be led by him, and also for the people who desire for Reality Carpinteria, as a Reality church in the Reality family, to continue under new leadership.
These points of disagreement are not over essential matters of the faith. There is powerful unity in Christ and strong agreement on the evangelization of the lost and the equipping of the saints. However, these points of disagreement are significant as they greatly impact how a church is led, and how it carries out its mission. Therefore, the best way we can seek to move forward is to do so as separate congregations, seeking to honor Christ and each other, in the process.
And in this, we remember that a parting of ways is not new in the Church’s history. The Book of Acts indicates a “sharp contention” that developed between Paul and Barnabas. This contention was most likely not over essentials of the faith, but how to go about the mission. This contention resulted in a parting of ways. And in this, we learn that there will be times when Christians disagree over important matters of practice. But the essential thing is to remain focused on doing the work of Christ and demonstrating his character. This is what Paul and Barnabas did, and perhaps even more work was accomplished through the manner in which they handled their disagreement. And this is what we are endeavoring to do, as we enter into this new season, and we hope and pray you will do the same.
May the Lord be with us all.
To find out about upcoming prayer meetings and info-gatherings for each church, please contact Adam or Beau.