Dear Emmaus Family –
We love the Fowlers.
Over the last 5 years they led our community with grace, compassion, and wisdom, and embodied Jesus to us in both big and small ways. Bryan taught us the Bible with integrity, with the goal of moving us closer to Jesus and closer to each other. Shannon spoke life and truth to us through deep relationships and generous acts of kindness. Interacting with them has been life-giving, and has proven integral to the personal spiritual growth of many in our body.
Losing their leadership and friendship will be difficult for all of us, and we must now grieve this loss as a community, but we cannot rush the process. So please take time to weep together, reminisce together, and give ear to all the various emotions this news will stir up in each of us. Joy can come in the morning but only when the night of mourning has been endured.
In our grief we will send the Fowlers off well. We pray nothing but blessing for their road ahead - for great joy and fulfillment in Bryan’s new job, for an amazing local community for their whole family, and for the nearness of their extended family to bring needed support and love. We will invest time over the next few months hanging out and praying with them, helping with logistics, and listening well to Bryan’s final teachings at Emmaus.
Turning our attention from the Fowlers to you, the Emmaus community, we caution against two possible extremes in our response to this time of unplanned transition.
The first extreme is to despair. Despair is not good grief. Despair would have us believe in worst case scenarios and may lead to casting bad intentions on the Fowlers and doubt in the future of Emmaus. Instead we encourage you to talk about the hurt you may experience at this loss. Talk with us, talk with each other, but do it with grace and hope. Leadership transitions can be unsettling, but we know the Lord placed this community here for a reason and He will be faithful to see us through.
The second extreme is to rush into immediate action, to rally the troops too quickly. This effort is noble and can be born out of a great love for our community, but we believe in action informed by deep prayer and the discernment of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. As much as we might want our Emmaus community to stay unchanged, survival for survival’s sake can never be our goal. Instead, we believe Jesus will guide us and will bring abundant life to His church community as we take one step at a time.
We believe this will be a time of renewal and rebirth for Emmaus. A time to recast vision and return to the founding principles that make us a “Jesus church”. So as we move forward we will set aside times for corporate fasting and prayer for the future of Emmaus. We will listen to God and to one other. We will continue to meet on Sundays with teaching provided by a team of gifted individuals from our community. We will do life together, meeting in Community Groups and serving each other. As we seek Him together we expect the Lord to guide us and to give us clarity. Within the next three months we hope to be able to come together to make decisions about where to go from here.
We have seen the goodness of God these last five years. We have seen Him heal, give life, bring freedom and solidify a diverse group of people and make them family. We dearly love each of you and have felt your love for us. We know this to be true: God knew what He was doing when He started Emmaus. He knew what he was doing when He brought Bryan and Shannon and their kids to Raleigh, NC. He knows what He is doing now. Amen.
Blessings to you all,
Ken, Adam, and Erik