Transition Updates

Final Update: 3.4.24

Update: 2.13.24

Update: 1.15.24

When you hear the news that we have confirmed our next senior pastor, the next natural question is, "When does he start?" There are many factors that will determine the answer to this question: buying houses, selling houses, schooling and quite a few others. The Leadership Team at First Church has formed a transition team that we will be working with Shaen and Katie to make this transition as seamless as possible. So, as soon as we begin to iron out those details, we will update you through the normal channels (i.e. email, website and Sunday mornings). Continue to pray as we support the Marks family in this transition.

Update: 1.4.24

After a long season of prayer and seeking God's direction for our church we are excited to give you an update regarding our Senior Pastor position here at First Church. At a congregational meeting that took place on January 3rd, the members who were present voted and affirmed to extend a call to Shaen Marks to be our next Senior Pastor. This call was extended to Shaen and he has joyfully accepted. We pause in this moment to once again be reminded of God's goodness and faithfulness in the life of First Church. We look forward with eagerness and anticipation to all that God will continue to do in and through this church community.

From here we will begin working with Shaen and his family to determine a timeline for transition. We'll be sure to keep everyone informed as these details are solidified. In the meantime, let us pray for Shaen and his family as they prepare for this transition into our church family. May we receive them well.

Update: 12.28

Update: 12.26

Prayer Prompts

As a church we are in the midst of praying for God's discernment and direction for our open Senior Pastor position. On January 3rd we will join together at a congregational meeting to vote whether or not to affirm Shaen Marks as our next Senior Pastor.

In the days leading up to that meeting we would like to join together in prayer for our church and for the Marks family. Below, you will find some daily prayer prompts that can serve as a reminder to be praying over the next several days.

December 26: Search Me: Pray Psalm 139:23-24.

December 27: Wisdom: Pray James 1:5.

December 28: Change: Pray Hebrews 13:8 and Psalm 40:2.

December 29: Unity: Pray Ephesians 4:1-3.

December 30: Peace: Pray Matthew 6:30-34.

December 31: Clarity: Pray Proverbs 3:5-7 and Colossians 1:9.

January 1: Transition: Pray Deuteronomy 31:8 and Isaiah 43:19.

January 2: Leadership/Staff at First Church: Pray 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 and Galatians 6:9.

January 3: The Marks Family: Pray Psalm 25:4-5.

Update: 12.12

Update: 12.5

Update: 11.30

Meet Shaen Marks

Bio: I grew up in a home with a single Dad who planted a stake in the ground that God would be first in our lives. I had regular devotions with him each morning, along with weekly church attendance that fostered a love for and desire for God. I made a decision to follow Christ as my Savior when I was 5-years old . . . sitting at the breakfast table with my Dad. My childhood was fairly boring (except for a 7-year stint in amateur roller skating, which is an entirely different story). I didn’t do all the “bad” things that my pastors growing up said I couldn’t do in order to be a Christian. I got very good at learning how a Christian should behave, and, by the grace of God, I genuinely LOVED behaving as a Christian. It wasn’t until after high school where I began to realize the full extent and story of the gospel: that the REASON I acted the way I did, in following the “rules” of Christianity, is that God gave me the ability and desire to follow Him. He reached out first, He called first and I simply responded. During college I told my girlfriend, Katie (who is now my wife), that I would NEVER work at a church. Since graduating from Azusa Pacific University with my degree in music, I have ONLY worked in the church. God has built and designed me to lead His church and I am thankful to God for all He’s allowed me to do. I currently serve on the Lead Pastor team at CrossPoint Church in Hutchinson, KS. I’ve been married since May of 2004 to my high school sweetheart, Katie, and have 5 children (4 boys & 1 girl). I look forward to what God has in store for us and growing old with my wife.

If you would like to learn more about Shaen and listen to some of his past sermons, please visit his website

Update: 11.30

As you heard on Sunday, the search team passed along a Senior Pastor candidate to the leadership team. After a robust interview process and prayerful consideration, the leadership team has agreed to continue in the process with the candidate, Shaen Marks.

As a congregation we are now entering into a time of prayer and discernment regarding Shaen specifically as we seek God’s direction for our next Senior Pastor here at First Church. Please take the time to read the next steps of the process below.

Next Steps:

• Shaen and his family will be in Columbia City on December 9th and 10th.

• On the 9th – there will be a question and answer time with Shaen in the worship center at 2 PM to get to know him a little better based on the questions submitted ahead of time.

• To submit questions for the Q&A time please email them to by noon on Thursday, December 7th.

• On the 10th – Shaen will preach during both services and be available in the lobby between services to say hello.

After Shaen’s weekend with us, the Leadership Team will meet to discuss whether or not to present Shaen to the congregation for a vote. Upon affirmation from the Leadership Team, a Congregational Meeting will be called where members are able to vote to extend a call to Shaen to be our next Senior Pastor. You will receive communication about the date of that Congregational Meeting as it gets closer.

Update: 11.26

For the past couple of months, the search team has been reviewing several resumes submitted by Vanderbloemen Consultants. After review and speaking with these candidates, we have prayerfully decided to pass a candidate along to our Leadership Team to process further. We are in the midst of interviewing the candidate and will be sharing further updates in the coming days and weeks. We invite you to continue to pray with us through this stage of the process. We continue to trust in God's leading and guidance.

Update: 10.9

Update: 08.17

For the past couple of months, the search team has been reviewing several resumes submitted by Vanderbloemen Consultants. After review and speaking with these candidates, we have prayerfully decided that we would decline going further with these men. Our next step will be to collect more resumes and begin the process again with a new set of candidates. Continue to pray as we seek God's will in all of this.

Update: 05.24

On Wednesday evening, May 17th, we gathered as a congregation to sing, pray, affirm new Leadership Team Members, and hear the latest updates on the Leadership Team's efforts to find our next Senior Pastor.

Updates on the Senior Pastor search process:

Engagement with Consultant/Search Firm – Vanderbloemen Search Firm

After praying and discussing how best to seek a senior pastor, the Leadership Team affirmed the decision to engage with a search firm specializing in Christian leadership. The Leadership Team engaged with multiple options before landing on Vanderbloemen Search Firm. For over a decade, Vanderbloemen Search Firm has helped Christian organizations of all sizes and types find their key staff.

With the help of a regional representative, Vanderbloemen has begun the process of engaging with our church to build a church profile. This profile will serve as a tool to communicate to potential candidates information about our county and city, what we believe as a denomination and our identity as a church. In order to build this profile our regional representative sat in on our Sunday services and met with the Leadership Team, church staff and even some members of the congregation. This was a robust process which has provided a very thorough and accurate picture of First Church of God.

The purpose and function of Vanderbloemen is to use this information in the church profile to begin a nationwide search of potential Senior Pastor candidates that align with our church culture and vision. Our First Church of God search team will then be presented with high quality candidates targeted to the needs of our church.

View Church Profile

Search Team

The Leadership Team has also been busy creating a Search Team responsible for reviewing and interviewing the candidates Vanderbloemen sends our way.

This team is comprised of three members of the Leadership Team, Jeff Sickafoose (Elder), Kevin Eames (Stewardship), Jim Sittler (Trustee) and four members of our congregation, Kevin Jordan, Liz Davenport, Matt Turner and Kim Gareiss. Pray for this team, as they have an important task in front of them! You can feel free to email them prayers, words of encouragement, and scriptures at

As the Search Team discovers a potential candidate, they will then pass that candidate along to the Leadership Team. Once this entire process brings about a candidate the Search Team and The Leadership Team discerns is a good fit to be our next Senior Pastor, the congregation will get to meet them and hear them preach. Ultimately a congregational meeting will be called for an affirming vote for this person to be called as our next Senior Pastor.

As we move through this process, we will be sure to keep everyone updated on the progress. Thank you for your commitment to prayer and patience as we trust God’s leading and timing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Speaking of the Leadership Team, who is on the Leadership Team?

The Leadership Team is a group of people affirmed by the congregation who work alongside the staff to provide leadership and oversight for First Church of God. You can click here to see who is currently on the Leadership Team.

If I have further questions, who can I contact?

If you’d like to contact a staff person, you can email, and someone will be in touch with you.

If you’d like to contact someone on the leadership team, you can email, and someone will be in touch with you.

Where do we go from here? What happens during this transition?

As you can imagine our Pastors and Elders have already been praying for God’s wisdom and leading. We feel very strongly that God is inviting us into a season of prayer as a church. A season where, as a community, we seek God’s presence in our own lives and the in the life of our church as a whole. As we have been saying, we believe there are beautiful and hopeful days ahead where God will continue to use First Church to be a people who point to Jesus as the one who can heal, redeem, and restore all things.

Who will be leading through the transition? Will we have an “interim Senior Pastor?”

As the Executive Pastor, Rob Bergman will provide leadership through this transition. He will continue to lead the staff in the day-to-day functions of the various ministries of the church. He will also help provide vision and direction for Sunday morning services. While Rob will be preaching more often, we will hear from several of our pastors as well as guest speakers. God’s Word will continue to be proclaimed without reservation in beautiful and creative ways.

We have been blessed with a wonderful, very capable staff and it is clear that the ministries can and will continue without interruption. Please join us in praying for this team as they lead through this time.

Will there be a pastoral search committee?

Yes. And as was mentioned earlier, we feel strongly that God is first calling us into a season of prayer. Because we have a team of staff and volunteers who can lead through this transition, we can resist the urgency of moving too quickly through this process. As next steps begin to be clarified we will keep everyone up-to-date and informed.

Is the church going to change in any way on doctrine or theology?

Nothing about our doctrine or theology has or will change. We will continue to point people to the grace of Jesus and all that was accomplished through his death and resurrection. If you have any questions regarding our doctrine or theology, click here to see our beliefs and statement of faith. You can also click here to see the beliefs of our denomination, the Churches of God.

Through this transition, what can I do?

First and foremost, please join us in prayer. Pray for the leadership of our church. Pray for our volunteer teams. Pray for the various ministries here at First Church. But also pray for our community as a whole. Pray for creative ways for us to continue to be a bright shining light in our community.

Second, jump in and serve. Through this season of transition God is still on the move and we can each find ways to love and serve both inside the walls of our church but also in various ways in the community. Need some ideas? Click here

Is there a sense of how long we will be in this transition period?

As we have mentioned we will move through this prayerfully, thoughtfully, and patiently. We will be sure to continue to share updates regarding the next steps we sense God guiding us towards!