Dear Church Family and Friends,
I am writing to you to make public what was announced this past Sunday at our church service. Stephany and I announced that we would be stepping aside as Pastors of Holy City Church and allowing the Paez family to step into this area of leadership. There were many tears shed (still being shed), and much to be said along with support and love for both my family and the Paez family. I also mentioned on Sunday that I would follow up with a short letter that we could share with people through email and social media for those who were not there this past Sunday.
Let me begin by stating that we live in a time where when a Pastor and his family step down, it is usually due to moral failures and/or issues of that nature. We thank God that this is not the case for us and for that sake I will use the term “stepping aside” rather than stepping down. We are stepping aside trusting that God will continue the work at Holy City through the Paez family.
Stephany and I planted Holy City Church 7 years ago obeying God’s call to reach people who needed love and community. We felt God was asking us to specifically reach people who were unchurched or who maybe didn’t quite fit the mold of church (whatever that may be). It has been a beautiful journey, seeing the growth of the church and seeing families grow in Christ and in numbers. Over the last 7 years we have experienced loss, we have experienced joy, and celebrated many things together. Yet most of all, we have seen God’s favor and grace over Holy City and we are trusting and believing that we will continue to see it.
Earlier in 2018, I started to feel a restlessness about the future of the church and where we should go as a church. Some of that restlessness came from being burned out in so many areas of my life. I began to explore some of those feeling through prayer and conversation with my wife and other Pastors. It got to the point where we were advised to consider taking a sabbatical to take some time to rest, pray and ask for God for a renewed vision. We decided to take a 1 month sabbatical as a family and it was during that time that Stephany and I felt that God was talking to us, through prayer asking us to step aside and to put in place a leader that we personally have discipled and trained over the last 6 years. In talking to my Bishop recently he commended me in saying that not too many Pastors are willing to sometimes take a look at themselves as the source of change needed for a church. Holy City has been fruitful in so many ways over the last 7 years but God is calling for some change in our church. I believe that God calls us all, every single person in the church building, to serve in some capacity. Stephany and I believe that in order for some of those changes to happen, we need to divide the work and let someone else take over.
Through conversation and prayer we were impressed by the Holy Spirit that Angel and Idania Paez would be the leaders that would take over and be the agents of change at HCC. This couple has been our companions and our ministry best friends. God has a strong calling over Angel and Idania and what God touches He makes Holy, and this thing which is Holy is blessed. I am reminded of Exodus 18 where Moses’ Father-in- Law tells Moses that He will certainly wear himself out if he does not divide his work. Well, in the same way that Moses was told to divide God’s work and multiply the servants, we are being asked to do the same.
This time of transition is one of joy and celebration for our church. I am excited about being obedient to God’s call for our family, to go rest and sit under another Pastor for a while before we start to labor again. The work does not stop. I will continue to worship through piano and voice as well as preach and Stephany will continue to serve in the many capacities she does through her work in the community as well as her work with people individually. More so, I am excited to continue to see God’s favor and grace over this beautiful church and people that God has allowed us to raise up and lead over the last 7 years to call family in Christ. We will always be family here on Earth as in Heaven.
Stephany and I have made a commitment to Angel and Idania to guide and mentor them through their pastoral journey as well as stay at Holy City through the end of January. Beginning in February, the Gallo family will be attending Riverside Church with our good friend Pastor Brian Brookins who has been such a support during our time of searching and praying that God would give us direction.
I love you church. I will always keep each and everyone of you close to my heart, especially those who have gone on to see the Lord. May Jesus’ abundant love and grace be in YOU all of the days of your life. May the Holy Spirit’s help be your guiding star. May the sovereignty of the Father be your reason to always abide in Him.
Juan and Stephany Gallo