Bishop Marvin L. Sapp on Sunday appointed Rory Marshall as the incoming senior pastor of Lighthouse Full Life Center in Grand Rapids during a celebration of the church’s 16th anniversary.
At Sunday’s worship service, Sapp also led the congregation in a ceremonial burning of its mortgage, as the church is now debt free. This will allow Marshall “to focus on preaching, teaching and outreach,” the church said in a statement to The Christian Post.
The 32-year-old new senior pastor was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and his father, Rory Marshall Sr., was a pastor in the city and one of Sapp’s early mentors. The family moved to Chicago when Rory Jr. was 12.
Marshall will relocate from Illinois, where he was a staff pastor at The Powerhouse Chicago under the leadership of Archbishop William Hudson III. He will start leading worship at Lighthouse Full Life Center sometime in November.
Sapp founded Lighthouse Full Life Center in Grand Rapids and Muskegon with his late wife, MaLinda Prince Sapp, in 2003. He stepped down as senior pastor of the church in September to become the senior pastor of Chosen Vessel Cathedral in Fort Worth, Texas. However, the celebrated gospel singer continues to be chairman of the board at Lighthouse Full Life Center.
Marshall’s pastoral appointment came after the church’s search committee and board reviewed a list of potential candidates. He received a unanimous vote.
“It would have been easy for me to select a pastor unilaterally, but after prayer and contemplation I decided to put together a group of individuals who I trusted to help me make the best decision,” Sapp told CP. “I wanted to be sure to have a consensus from those who represent the congregation that the new pastor would serve.”
Sapp said he gave the committee a list of candidates which they interviewed and then narrowed the list down to three recommendations. “Rory was at the top of my initial list,” he added. “After meeting with the committee, he remained the top candidate.”
“My greatest desire is that the incoming pastor would have more assistance than MaLinda and I had when we started Lighthouse. I wanted not only a smooth executive transition, but for Lighthouse to be positioned for long-term growth and success. I am proud to hand over a debt-free church,” said Sapp, who is helping to manage the transition.
Marshall, who’s also an award-winning teacher and taught English classes for two years at Chicago’s North Lawndale College Prep., said he is “deeply humbled by the opportunity to extend the legacy of Bishop Marvin and the late Dr. MaLinda Sapp,” whose motto for the Bible teaching ministry was “One Voice, One Vision.”
“Over the past year, I have been a guest speaker at Lighthouse a few times and I fell in love with the people there. They always felt like family, and now they will become family. I am committed to growing together, creating vibrant ministry initiatives and building new relationships so that Lighthouse remains a vital part of the Grand Rapids community,” Marshall said.
Sapp stressed that he wanted an incoming pastor who has “the same passion and drive as I have for ministry.”
“I’ve known Rory his entire life and I know that he has a passion for ministry and to do outreach and really try to impact the community around us. Lighthouse has always been known for doing things that impact the community, so I wanted to make sure that we found someone with the ability to teach and preach, who also has a sensibility for the needs of the community around them,” Sapp said.
“Lighthouse has never been just a local church. We have always been called to reach the entire West Michigan Region. Rory has the passion and the capabilities to continue the work of Lighthouse, and take the ministry to the next level,” he added.
In June, Sapp said his decision to step down from Lighthouse to lead Chosen Vessel Cathedral was the fulfillment of a prophecy God began speaking to him in 2017.
“In August of 2017, the Lord told me that 2018 was going to be the year for me to begin again,” he told the church. “In 2018, I received multiple prophecies about transitioning from Grand Rapids. I initially rejected them. However, reminded of what the Lord told me, I began to be more contemplative and prayerful about the many opportunities that I was presented with to possibly assume church leadership roles in other cities.
“This year, an opportunity was presented that I know represents the fulfillment of the prophecies I had received. As such, I am announcing my retirement as senior pastor of Lighthouse Full Life Center. The first Sunday in September will be my final Sunday at Lighthouse. I will remain as chairman of the board of directors at Lighthouse, and will provide spiritual oversight of the church,” Sapp said at the time.