After 18 years of ministry at Bethel Church in Redding, California, Senior Pastors Eric and Candace Johnson have announced that they will be formally stepping down in February 2021.
The couple, who have inhabited the senior pastoral roles for the past nine and a half years, announced their resignation Sunday, explaining that they had arrived at this decision after months of prayerful consideration.
“We are family, and we will always be a part of this movement. While this decision may feel odd and unexpected, there is a deep sense of peace. We are anchored in hope, and believe that the best is yet to come, both for us and for the future of Bethel,” the Johnsons said in a statement released Sunday.
The charismatic megachurch, which is known for its popular worship music label and School of Supernatural Ministry, noted that the Johnsons were not pressured to step down, and the reason for their departure was not because of any "moral failure, inciting incident, pandemic or political fatigue, theological difference, or issue of health or capacity involved."
"Rather, this is about courage, strength, and faith, as they have an inner sense that this role is no longer the right fit for them in this season of their lives."
In a separate video announcement, Candace shared that when they said yes to their current role, they thought it would mean forever and their decision to step down has surprised even them.
"This place has some of the finest people on the planet, and we feel so invested in your lives so it's definitely a process as we are transitioning and laying stuff down as well," she said.
After January, the couple intends to take a two to three-month sabbatical to pray for direction.
The church will be formally transitioning in the coming months and allow time to connect with the church family. Eric and Candance Johnson do not presently know what is next but are trusting God as they complete their season and enter the next one.
"The Senior Leadership Team and church board will be providing an interim plan in the near future, but will take time with the Lord and one another concerning a long term strategy. God’s got this, and we trust Him. Together, we will navigate the unknowns of the future as we stay focused on God’s presence and place our confidence and trust in His goodness," the church said.
Bill Johnson, Eric's father and senior leader of Bethel, added: “We know this was not an easy decision for Eric and Candace to make. And yet, know that as a Senior Leadership Team, we fully support them in their decision to resign as the Senior Pastors of Bethel Church here in Redding,"
"And while there is sadness in this transition, we remain expectant and full of hope for this next season: for them and for us.”
Eric Johnson is the author of Christ In You: Why God Trusts You More Than You Trust Yourself.