Lead Pastor Search

Check in here for the latest news regarding our search for a new Lead Pastor

Update: SMVC Lead Pastor Transition – Posted 12.2.22 at 10:00 AM

Dear SMVC Family,

As we shared in our “Green Lake Retreat Summary” email on November 21, our staff and council have been led to slow down and pause all pastoral interviews as well as the potential sale of our backyard acreage. This decision is based on prayer and counsel given by various seasoned Vineyard leaders who love and care for our church (which was described in greater detail in our summary communication). We were also encouraged to pursue an interim leader to support us in discernment and waiting on the Lord for where He is leading us in this transitional season.

While the staff and council are experiencing consensus and much peace with this direction to pause and wait on the Lord, we recognize the burden it puts on Pastor Greg. In desiring to support a positive and smooth transition, Greg has willingly devoted himself to seeing our church through hiring a new lead pastor, regardless of the time it may take. Additionally, Greg is now working a full-time job outside of the church while still leading SMVC part-time. We are exceedingly grateful to Greg and his family for all he’s poured out for the life of our church, and though we are thankful for his heart of commitment to a smooth transition, we care most about his own health and well-being. We feel it is best for Greg and his family to be released from leading SMVC at the end of December, allowing them the freedom to rest while we pause and wait on the Lord for His perfect timing.

In our “Green Lake Retreat Summary,” we also mentioned that we would be meeting with Jon and Sue Marsden to explore their stepping into an interim leadership role for our church. They are amazing long-time senior pastors of River Heights Vineyard Church, retired from full-time ministry but still involved there as well as pouring into the larger Vineyard movement. Jon recently led Mercy Vineyard Church through their lead pastor search in the last few years, and we are confident we will all grow from their steadfast faith, wise leadership, gentle encouragement, and faithful service.

So it’s official, Jon Marsden will start as Interim Lead Pastor in January with Sue’s support as she is able. Their new year’s priorities will be supporting and pouring into staff, praying and sharing wisdom with the council, and preaching at SMVC along with other Vineyard leaders who have expressed willingness to support us. We will remain open-handed with how the Lord leads us through the first half of the year and evaluate the Marsdens’ interim role with us along the way. We are excited they are willing and able to partner with us in this chapter of our story!

We will continue providing times after Sunday services to listen, answer questions, and pray together. Our next after-service Q & A will be this Sunday, Dec. 4th in the Fireside room, where we will also have note cards available to write notes of thanks and encouragement for Greg for 19 years of faithful service. We also welcome emails with questions to council@smvineyard.org and encouragements to greg@smvineyard.org.

Peace to you,

SMVC Council and Staff


Update: Green Lake Retreat Summary – Posted 11.21.22 at 12:00 PM

Dear SMVC Family,

At the beginning of November, some of our staff and council were able to attend the regional Vineyard Pastors & Leaders Retreat in Green Lake, WI, along with La Viña pastors, Miguel and Rocio, and some of their leaders. We each had meaningful experiences with the Holy Spirit through worship, teachings, ministry time, and connecting with others.
The SMVC staff and council members in attendance, along with Pastor Miguel, were also able to have a meeting with several seasoned Vineyard pastors about our current situation and pastoral search at SMVC to receive counsel and prayer. These pastors included Michael Gatlin (Senior Pastor of Duluth Vineyard), Dany Mercado (Vineyard Regional Leader for the Midwest North), and Jon and Sue Marsden (retired senior pastors of River Heights Vineyard). The main takeaways were encouraging and we wanted to share the following with our whole church family:

  • Jon shared his history with Victory Vineyard/SMVC and his deep love for us, which Michael echoed. Jon shared what it looked like for him to lead Mercy Vineyard as interim Lead Pastor through their recent lead pastor search, which took about 22 months until they hired Gary Dawkins. Now Mercy Vineyard is growing and thriving.
  • Dany shared how important it is for our council and staff to work together on the pastor search and not make decisions separately from each other during this time, which we were pleased to report we have been doing together so far. He also emphasized the importance of hiring a lead pastor from within the Vineyard, and Michael and Jon were both in agreement. They have all seen Vineyard churches hire lead pastors from outside of the Vineyard movement in the past, and they did not turn out well.
  • Michael had three primary thoughts to add:
    • SMVC is part of a greater family and we are surrounded by people and churches who love us, who are praying for us, and who want to help us. This could include helping to preach on Sunday mornings, prayer support, meeting for prayer and discernment, etc. We were encouraged to lean into our Vineyard family more as we move forward through this season of transition.
    • Slow down. Pause all pastoral interviews and applications. Michael encouraged us that we have time, and we should make more space to wait on what the Lord has for us and keep praying.
    • Consider the next step to be bringing in Interim leaders like Jon and Sue Marsden, who could provide experience and wisdom to guide us through our waiting on the Lord and discerning where He is leading us.

Overall, we came away from Green Lake feeling loved, encouraged, supported, and a renewed sense of hope. We know God is in control and we are feeling content in the wisdom not to rush into any decisions. So, for now, our council and staff have agreed to slow down, pause our pastoral search, and pivot to an interim leader to help guide us. We will be meeting again to talk and pray further with Jon Marsden on Monday, Nov. 28th. 

As for the potential sale of our backyard acreage, we thank those of you who took the time to cast your votes last month; though we didn’t see votes from every church member, the tally so far comes to 30 “yes” votes, 3 “no” votes, and 2 abstained. That said, we feel the overall call to slow down after Green Lake also means we should pause on pursuing sale of the backyard land at this time and simply focus on the upcoming Advent season ahead of us.

We understand this shift in direction may bring up questions, and we intend to continue providing times after Sunday services to answer those questions, listen, and pray together. Our next after-service Q & A will be Sunday, Dec. 4th, when we will have a better idea of how Jon Marsden can partner with us moving forward into the new year. We also welcome emails to council@smvineyard.org in the meantime. 

We hope these updates bring you hope and encouragement as we wait on the Lord together for his perfect timing! In the words of Michael Gatlin at our Green Lake meeting: “God’s got this, and He’s got us.”

Peace to you,

SMVC Council and Staff


Update: SMVC Lead Pastor Update – Posted 8.12.22 at 9:00 AM

Dear SMVC Family Member,

As we communicated last week, the Council and Staff gathered this Monday, August 8th to discuss the way forward following Greg’s decision to transition out of his role as Lead Pastor. La Viña Pastors and Vineyard Area Leaders, Miguel and Rocio Aviles, were also at the table. As our sister church, La Viña has invested in us as we have invested in them, and we share a connected future. After thoughtful conversation, we reached a general consensus.

We believe that revitalization is what’s next for our church, and the best way to do that is to bring on a new Lead Pastor, either an individual or married couple, with a clear calling, energy, and commitment to the Kingdom of God. We believe this needs to be done in a timely fashion and have already begun the process of creating a job posting for this role.

As we step into this season, we will be prioritizing transparency through frequent communications, by creating a page on our website with updates (look for this in the next several days), and by having leaders available to talk to after Sunday services. If you have any questions, leads, prophetic words, or anything you’d like to discern together, we encourage you to talk to a staff member or email the team at council@smvineyard.org.

Along with welcoming your questions and participation, we are also calling on our church family to fast and pray weekly. We invite you to fast together on Thursdays – and if Thursdays don’t work for you, feel free to pick a day that does! As we fast, take the time to pray for our church, our surrounding community, and our future.

It’s important to recognize that revitalization doesn’t start with a new Lead Pastor… It starts with every one of us – right now! Our church has a legacy, a God-given purpose, vision, and mission. We are a church that is becoming like Jesus and being Jesus to the world – a community loving all people into a growing relationship with Jesus. We are a place where everyone is welcome, everyone is needed, and everyone is changed. And God isn’t done moving here! We are excited to continue to lean into the real, tangible, and never-ending hope of Jesus together in the coming months.

With Love,
The Council and Staff

Greg Perkinson
Julie Berglund
David Entler
Vallie McCullough
Del and Katie Lafky
Karen Vonderharr
Sandi Knutson

Kuan Gant
Kellen and Nikki Bloom
Jack Kohaut


Update: SMVC Lead Pastor Transition – Posted 8.4.22 at 1:00 PM


Dear SMVC Family, 

With much emotion and gratitude, I inform you that I will be transitioning out of the Lead Pastor role after 15 years. I have no timeline on this; I just believe it’s time. I no longer have the mental or emotional capacity to do what this job requires. I have been open about my struggles with my mental health and the healing process. I have worked hard these past two years to heal and gain new tools to navigate things. The question from the beginning of my healing journey in 2020 was: would I be able to recover while still doing ministry? Unfortunately, I’ve found the answer to that question is “no,” I am not able to. Twenty-four years of ministry as an occupation has taken a mental and emotional toll on me. It is time for me to find a job outside of ministry and continue to heal. We need another person or couple who is healthy with the energy to lead us forward and revitalize our church again.

I know every transition brings uncertainty, mixed feelings, a sense of loss, and questions about the future of our church. I want you to know that these feelings are normal and okay. As we go through this, we must trust in our God, who does not change, who sees the big picture and knows where we are going. Here is a verse God has given me over the years that pertains to us all: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” Isaiah 26:3-4

In 2007, our church was contemplating whether it should continue being a church after going on its fourth lead pastor in four years. All I knew then was that God led Sara and me here, and I wanted to help. I wanted to make a difference. I didn’t have any aspirations of becoming a Lead Pastor, or an Area Leader for that matter; it simply was what God was doing. So, that’s what I did. I have been confident from the first day until this one that God has a purpose and plan for this church. I believe the community God has placed us in would greatly miss our presence if our church wasn’t here. And I believe we have a God-given purpose and mission for the future.

Seeing all that God has done here over the years has been amazing. A church planted in 1974 that continues today is incredible. We were one of the first Vineyard churches in MN and have played a big role as a launching point for many others. So many of you have invested years and even decades of your life here in this church family; you’ve poured your heart and soul into it and given so much of your time, energy, and resources. That has not gone unnoticed. I am so grateful for you! We need you and hope you will continue this journey with this family as we move forward.

What will things look like in the coming months?

We don’t know yet. Our leadership team and council will meet for the first time since this decision on Monday, August 8th. Miguel Aviles, our La Viña Pastor and Vineyard Area Leader, will join us. Vineyard USA leaders have been notified and have ensured that they will be available to help support us in any way they can. I will be a part of the transition as needed and as long as it makes sense. I do know that we will continue to be the Church and extend God’s Kingdom in hopes of advancing it.

Through centuries, a merciful God has been steering history and people to Jesus; He will not stop doing so now, and neither will we. This has never been about one person, but all of us collectively as a Church doing the stuff of the Kingdom.

What do we need from you?

As mentioned above, we need you:

1. We need you to be praying! Pray for the Council and Ministry Leaders as we meet to discuss the transition process, the timeline, and the search for the next Lead Pastor. Pray for the staff as they continue to pour themselves into their respective areas of ministry.

2. We need you to keep giving! We have been barely breaking even with our budget this year. If we are going to become healthy financially, we need to keep tithing and make more significant decisions to get there.

3. We need you to serve! Find an area of ministry that fits you and your gifts and get involved. As we move forward, all these things will be crucial to the health and life of our church family.

In closing, no words can express what our hearts feel after doing 19 years of life together. I want you to know how much Sara and I love and appreciate each of you. In many ways, we grew up here. We were married here, we had four kids along the way and raised them here, and we matured and grew in our faith here. We have been through so much together and have so many fond memories. Thank you for everything you have done for our family.

We have great hope for the future of SMVC, for what we have all hoped and worked so hard for to be realized. We trust in the God who will always prove Himself to be God in every situation and every circumstance.

Peace to you,

Greg Perkinson

Please let us know if you have any questions regarding the search

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