Bethel Church Pastors Eric and Candace Johnson have said their goodbyes to the Redding, California charismatic megachurch as they begin a new season in ministry.
In a Monday email to the congregation, the couple, who have been in the leadership position for the past decade, wrote that they had many emotions as they composed their final email message after ministering at the church for 18 years.
"It has been the biggest privilege of our lives to serve you as senior pastors over the past decade. Thank you for trusting us in this role and for your continual love, support, and belief. Our hearts are overwhelmed with gratitude for all that God has done through the years here. We have all grown so much and we feel extremely rich for the time that we’ve had together," they wrote.
"You will forever be a part of us and we are forever changed because of you. Thank you for being a passionate people after God’s heart and for being extravagant lovers of those around you. Your 'yes' to God has always kept the standard high in our lives and continues to challenge us to grow. Your generosity of heart has been astounding and undoing to us. We believe that this is one of the traits that has paved the way for all that God is releasing through this house. We have seen Him and experienced Him more by being with you."
The Johnsons, who are the son and daughter-in-law of Bill Johnson, the senior leader of Bethel, announced their departure days before Thanksgiving, an unexpected move they say surprised even them.
The charismatic megachurch, which is known for its popular worship music label and School of Supernatural Ministry, said at the time that the Johnsons were not pressured to resign and that their reason for leaving was not because of any "moral failure, inciting incident, pandemic or political fatigue, theological difference, or issue of health or capacity involved."
The couple is planning on taking a sabbatical to discern their next steps.
"As we are in this moment of great transition I recognize it's not just us but it's numerous people," Candace Johnson said at a farewell service Sunday.
"This has just been a year of shaking. And what I love about shaking is that you get down to what's true and what's right."
Eric added that their decision to leave was especially hard because of the quality of people that comprised the staff.
"There's something so special about doing what you love with the people you are excited to do it with," he said.
The couple added: "We walk forward in confidence in knowing more of who God is. Thank you for being who you are and for loving us so well! We aren’t saying goodbye, but just transitioning into a new way of relating. We will always be championing you and running with you."
Eric Johnson is the author of Christ In You: Why God Trusts You More Than You Trust Yourself.