Saturday, March 26, 2011

Heart to Heart Concerning the Future of CITN

First of all...before I address a few things, let me say that it's all good, Jesus is still Lord, the Kingdom of God is still advancing, Church In The Now is alive and well, I'm fine (and at peace), Debye's fine, my kids are good, my parents are good, and the world is still a wonderful place in which to live.

Many of you, of course, have read in the papers about the current situation with the property at 1877 Iris Drive in Conyers. Those of you who are a part of CITN know that this is no new development...that we have been discussing the possibility of this for about five years now. You may also know that this situation is not unique to CITN. Currently, there are in excess of 40 churches in the metropolitan Atlanta area that are in foreclosure (and some sources say it may be as high as 80 or 90). And if you follow the trends of other megachurches in recent years, such as Rick Warren's Saddleback Church and Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral, you already know that this is happening everywhere, and to some of the most successful congregations in the USA.

Before I go on, let me share an excellent letter that Debye sent out for me this week which will explain the whole scenario:

Dear CITN Board and Care Pastors,

As always, thank you so much for your continued support, faith and belief in Bishop and CITN. I am sure you are already aware of the transition and impending foreclosure that will take place on April 5. What we are believing for is that the lender (ECCU) will be the owner after the April 5 date; of course, we will have no way of knowing for sure until that day comes. We do have in writing from ECCU (assuming they will be the owners on April 5) that we may remain on the campus through May 31 (allowing us to host the graduations), with the potential to continue to lease the campus afterwards for an indefinite period of time.

In an effort to better serve the congregation, restore and repair relationships, and use every opportunity to reduce costs, we have decided to move services into the KITN building effective Wednesday, March 30, so…this Sunday will be our last Sunday in the current sanctuary, for now.

Beginning April 3, we will be combining the 9 and 11 AM services into one 10 AM service. On Sunday, April 3, we will have our first service in the new location and will celebrate Bishop’s birthday and our future. We are looking forward to a great service and everyone seeing that there is still a strong, cohesive family that believes in the message of CITN.

Once April 5 comes and goes, we will have direction to plan for the near future. Pastor Avery will be contacting you immediately regarding communion which will be served on April 3.

Regardless of what anything appears to be in the natural, we believe that we are in the center of God’s will and that the best days for CITN, and each of us individually, are ahead.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Please spread the word to others with whom you are connected.

Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your love and faithfulness.

Pastor Debye


Well, that's the deal...it is what it is, and we are prepared for whatever is to take place in the near future. You may have also heard rumors of a possible reality show coming up about our ministry and its transition, and that is, in fact, true. We just signed a contract with FreemantleMedia (the company responsible for such programs as American Idol, America's Got Talent, The Price is Right, Family Feud and Let's Make a Deal). They are now in the process of pitching the show to the networks, so there's nothing definite to report at this time...but as you can see from their track record of successful programming, there shouldn't be a problem in getting it on the air. I only bring this up to say that they are aware of our situation, and are planning on being here on April 5 to film whatever happens. We have given them the green light to document everything concerning the ministry, and even our personal lives, because we have nothing to hide and nothing to fear at this point.

Is it going to be hard to lose the building? Well, what do you think? Church In The Now has been my life's work for the last 26 years...my heart and soul (and blood, sweat and tears) are in those 43 acres. But Church In The Now will continue, regardless of its physical location, and I've already done all my crying...now I'm just ready for the future....ready to get on with it...

People write me fairly regularly and say that I should step down from the pulpit because of what I told the church about myself six months ago, and let me just say to that that no one can make that call except God Himself. No one else is qualified. He alone gave me my call and anointing, and He alone can remove it. My life is in His hands...no one else's. And when you consider that we are a multicultural church in Conyers, GA that has survived what some people consider to be major shifts in theology in recent years (inclusion/reconciliation), highly publicized scandals of high-profile family members of mine, and personal revelations about myself that could potentially destroy the average church, it's amazing that we're doing as well as we are. When you take all that into consideration (and I'm not even factoring in the economy), the fact that Church In The Now is still a church of around 1,000 people with a very solid and cohesive staff is quite impressive in my opinion. We may be in transition, but we certainly haven't failed. We are blessed.

So all I can say is, stay tuned. I'm posting this on Saturday night, so tomorrow could possibly be our last Sunday in the main building. I hope many of you will come out for this important service.

God is good.

I love you all.

73 comments:

Patti said...

Bish,
All I can say is: Let's Go CITN! Tomorrow Awaits!

Not going back I’m moving ahead
I’m here to declare to you my past is over in You
All things are made new surrendered my life to Christ
I’m moving, moving forward

What a moment You have brought me to
Such a freedom I have found in You
You’re the Healer who makes all things new
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Not going back I’m moving ahead
I’m here to declare to you my past is over in You
All things are made new surrendered my life to Christ
I’m moving, moving forward

You have risen with all power in Your hands
You have given me a second chance
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Not going back moving ahead
I’m here to declare to you my past is over I’m in You
Things are made new surrendered my life to Christ
I’m moving…
Not going back moving ahead
I’m here to declare to you my past is over in You
All things are made new surrendered my life to Christ
I’m moving, moving forward

You make all things new
Yes You make all things new
And I will follow You forward

Anonymous said...

Shannon Tebo said...

Just read the blog.....
Hold on....

"Help is on the way!!"
Love You!!!!!

Shanon..

Anonymous said...

Tim Hogg said...

Thanks for your candid, authentic BlogInTheNow. Having been in India for most of the past month, I have been out of the 'info' loop. (Truth is, I seem to be the last guy to know most anything in Conyers or the A/G. Most times that is good.)

My heart hurts for and with you. However, your own words will not let me linger there. So, while I am "staying tuned" know that I have no 'rocks in my pockets.' You have been diligent in a difficult place & time.

I do pray quite regularly for God's grace & wisdom to be with you. With this report, I will pray all the more.

Much blessings, your friend, Tim..

Anonymous said...

Paul Casola said...

Isn't it funny how when you become a more authentic, loving and accepting minister (not to mention person), people suggest you step down? The more I embraced the message of true Grace & Peace, the more hell broke loose in my life. Be strong, my friend, not everyone is bashing you.

And you don't have to respond to my messages. I just want you to know that there are people in your corner...

Anonymous said...

Andrea Atwater said...

Bishop, I love how you just keep it so real! Im impressed at your optimistic views on everything & every situation you are facing!

Anonymous said...

Kimberly Turner said...

Bishop, you are so amazing and so awesome...and you still have the words of life. In all your trials, you still have the words of life. Thank you for being you. I love you.

Anonymous said...

Terry Bradlow said...

My prayers are with you all in this time of transition, God does have a plan just keep the faith.

Anonymous said...

Kirk Shields-Priddy said...

I commend your transparency and courage! Numbers and buildings are taken as sign of God's favour in our North American culture -- but interestingly enough -- Jesus was not concerned about these things at all. In fact, his challenge to the institution of the Temple called into question all that the people of Jerusalem (and many others) considered central to their faith. His call was to follow him on the narrow way. He did not create a megachurch or build an edifice. He proclaimed God's Reign and warned that its birth pangs would not be easy!

Anonymous said...

Jean de Sousa said...

Just want to say "I love you" and thank you for changing my life!! We are all "through the looking glass" now. Can't go back, just forward...so here we go.....

Anonymous said...

Bishop Stephen L. White said...

Keep on moving forward Bishop! It's ALL good, cuz it's ALL God!

Anonymous said...

Lou Smith said...

Real families grow closer during difficult and challenging times. We are REAL family. Lean years are sometimes the most rewarding because relationships often thrive when life is simple. Sometimes we need to simplify our lives. Sometimes God does it for us. We just have to embrace it. God is great and greatly to be praised!

Anonymous said...

Charles Johnson said...

You are Loved my brother Bishop. Great Blessings are at your door step :)

Anonymous said...

Machion Garrison III said...

I didn't fly home from Texas to NOT celebrate! The Garrisons will be ITB.. Wherever CITN is, we are

Anonymous said...

Pastor Chuck Breckenridge said...

To say I love you and I'm praying for you is and understatement at the moment. You were such a blessing in Tulsa last weekend and you made such a difference in my life personally. I feel like I'm ready to run again because of your encouragement. We stand with you Bishop..we took your invitation to be a sister church in Christ very seriously...we are here for you...you future is going to be even greater! Tulsa has you covered in prayer and lots and lots of love

Anonymous said...

Joanna Cameron said...

I'm so glad it's my Sunday to usher tomorrow!! Center isle.. I will be there for sure!! I was there day one.. I will be there IF this happens to be the last.. You are still a ROCKSTAR to me!! Love ya!

Anonymous said...

Sandy Dorland said...

Your faith and your walk are stunning examples for the rest of us. I know you will be where you are supposed to be.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Corriea said...

Bishop:

I just read your post re. CITN. I've never physically attended, and tomorrow I won't physically be there because I live miles away outside United States. Bishop, you, CITN, and your congregation are in thought and prayer. It's all in divine order, and I know God has already gone forth to create the rightful outcome! You will be led to the rightful outcome!

"Doors closing, doors opening. You, CITN, and congregation are safe. It's only change. You are safe. It's only change".....Louise Hay, "Doors closing, doors opening"

All my love, always!
Kevin

Anonymous said...

Chris DeFrates said...

I'm praying for all of you at CITN -- my brothers and sisters. I enjoy your sermons online and I want to encourage you to BE the Church In The Now and look forward to what God has in store for you as a local body and how God is going to expand your ministry and what impact its going to have on the people you will reach in the future! :) Hugs to you all! :)

Anonymous said...

Keith Mitchell said...

Bishop, Pastor Debye, Y'all and us the people are Church in the Now. The Love we share as a body is too awesome to ever be disbanded. I feel God there in that building but we bring God not the Building. My heart goes out to you, like you said it's your life's work. All I can say to that is you ain't dead yet . The best is yet to come .

Anonymous said...

David Bernard Keith said...

Even stone will bow to you, Jim Earl. It is somehow the future of CITN and I for one say like you bring it on. We stand with you and for you, and cannot wait for a new day and a new beginning. May the Heavens ROAR tomorrow for CITN. May the showers of tonight wash away all doubt and bring a new clarity to CITN. God Bless and tomorrow is another day. Thank the Lord.

Anonymous said...

Clifford Lee Fuller said...

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." BE BLESSED

Anonymous said...

Deanna Youngs Shick said,

Jimearl, thank you for sharing your heart in such an open way. I will be in prayer for you and your people - that you will receive blessing.

Anonymous said...

Michael Teale said...

Dear Bishop and the CITN Family,

Recently, very late at night, an angel of God visited the very bedroom of our church’s praise band drummer, Gary Lee. The one huge thing that the angel told Gary Lee in regards to our church, The Upper Room Church St. Louis was, “Don’t Worry, Trust!” This is something that our small congregation is leaning very heavily on and we will not worry, we will trust in the Lord and the direction that He has for our church.

Having said that, I impart those very words to you Bishop and the wonderful folks at CITN, “Don’t Worry, Trust!” Just trust that God will see you through this tough transitional period. He hasn’t failed you yet and I have no doubt He will not fail you now or in the future. God has a plan for CITN and it is to be an outreach to everyone, not just the select few, but to everyone. Bishop, I listened to your coming out story last fall and I had nothing but tears in my eyes as I thanked the Lord for using you to come forward in light of the recent rash of teen suicides. But I was also beaming with pride and joy as well. I could not have been more proud to be a Servant of the Lord after you came out.

But, this is not about me. What it is about is that God will see you through and that He has CITN in the Palm of His Hands and He will lead you in the direction that He feels you must go.

Just remember, “Don’t Worry, Trust!”

All of us at The Upper Room Church St. Louis will be keeping you all in prayer and lifting you all up to the Lord and praying that His Will be done where CITN is concerned. We love you and we will be keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers.

In His Service,

Michael A. Teale
The Upper Room Church St. Louis

Anonymous said...

David Jensen said...

Bishop, I obviously can't be there tomorrow (Sunday) in person, but I will definitely be there in spirit. You and all of the people at CITN have my full love, support, and prayers. Your ministry is so special, powerful, and important, and it would not be the same without you. Since I have been following you on Facebook and reading your blog entries, I have definitely been very blessed and encouraged!!!! People that say you should step down from the pulpit, really need to think about what they are saying. I believe that you are doing exactly what God wants you to be doing, and people like me appreciate you so much!!!! I will continue to be praying for you and the people at CITN everyday. Please let me know what else I can do. Please do keep us updated too.

In His Love, David

Cheryl Tiedemann said...

Bish, you could preach in the streets and we will be there because we are CITN and not any building. If we have to decrease in order to increase then we are with you. I am believing CITN is going to be what God intended from the beginning. We are going to reach the ones that are different and live out of the box like ourselves because God made us that way for a reason and it is our job to make others aware by telling them to quit trying to change and love and work with what we have been given. We are going to demonstrate unconditional love like the love you and Pastor Debye have for each other and the same unconditional love that Christ has for ALL of us. It may appear to some that we are moving backward. Of course it is sad and we may all go through the grieving process but in the spirit, we are actually moving forward. We will let go and let God do what God has planned all along and I know it is going to be good when we put him in control. May not look like it at first but something fresh and new is about to happen and I am excited and want to be a part of it!

Anonymous said...

Chris DeFrates said...

Very well said, David! Hear Hear!

Anonymous said...

Mona Hassan said...

thanks for posting

Anonymous said...

Kirk Shields-Priddy said...

Blessings! You are a truly courageous follower of Jesus!

Anonymous said...

David Jensen said...

There is not a doubt in my mind that God has a perfect plan for you and the people at CITN for the future, and I know that He will fully prepare you all for what is ahead in the future. I'm sure that truly exciting things are ahead for the future. He is definitely not done with using you to continue to make an amazing difference in many people's lives (including mine) in the future. I so wish that the situation was different regarding the building, but it's not the building that makes the church. It's the pastor and wonderful people in the congregation, and CITN is definitely blessed with an absolutely wonderful pastor in you, and truly wonderful people that make up the church. You have my full support from here in Detroit, and I'm sure there are many other people around the country and world that fully support you too. On another note, I just got my copy of "A Year In The Now" in the mail today. I'm sure I will definitely be blessed and encouraged by it.

Anonymous said...

Pamalia Ricketson Culvern said...

Hey Bishop JES...you are right...It is what it is...but I haffta believe...it ain't whut it's gawnna be....YET anyway!

Tickled about the Reality Show...Father is SO MOVING all over...and the ANTICIPATION is absolutely thuh REAL ling!!! :D

Anonymous said...

Jere Luck said...

Bish, you are a man of God! I love you. I love your message. And you are giving us words of life!

Anonymous said...

Linda M Curtis said...

Can't afford the crazy flight fares next week, but I'm gettin in the car and DRIVING there for next weekend, just like I told ya I'd be there for Communion on your birthday and my birthday month, as well! I guess I REALly do get "the award", as you said, coming that day for driving farthest for church ! LOL Because CITN IS MY CHURCH and I'm not missin a thang ! We are soooooooooooooooooooo movin on UP !!

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Thanks so much everyone! You're all awesome, and I receive your wonderful words!

Teezy313 said...

Bish,

I'm behind you and P.Deb 110% and totally agree with you when you said that you're ready for the future and ready to get on with it...i think it would be safe to say that this year already a lot of people have "lost" some things/people/relationships that they either saw coming from a mile away or blindsided them..either way there has been pain and that's no different for CITN's physical 43 acres...Bishop Pearson said New Year's Eve that those who have spiritual eyes would embrace and welcome the "chaos" that 20-EL-even would bring because in the end the universe would correct itself and the miraculous would happen. I'm proclaming that over CITN today...no matter where we are, what building(s)/acre(s) we occupy that we would always/continue to see/follow the Holy Spirit and see the miraculous done everytime we come together.

"It's a new season, it's a new day
Fresh annointing flowing my way
A season of power and prosperity
It's a new saeson coming to me."

linda said...

Bish,
Praying for you and the rest of us at CITN. The quote from MLK always comes to mind... "you don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." This is our first step toward a much brighter and less stressful life!! Love you

Anonymous said...

Lisa Smith Pomeroy said...

Well...transition happens, and sometimes it really stinks. Been through alot of it myself over the last couple of years. But through all of the stress and the ensuing difficulties caused by stress, God still proves Himself to be God! Perhaps CITN will not be housed in the same building... that remains to be determined... but it will be alive and well in the hearts of those who have been touched by REAL love, encouragement, support... touched by GOD, Himself, who has been present every time I have been able to stream and the few times I have actually been able to be ITB. Whatever path He is taking you on will be the right one for you and, I guess, will have to be the right one for the church. You all will remain in my thoughts and prayers, no matter what. Love you ♥

Anonymous said...

James Ozga said...

All will be well..God's creation is ALWAYS a forward movement..hugs

Anonymous said...

Bob Rogers said...

The church is not now nor should it have ever been all about the building, we (you) are the church, the building.....not so much. good luck to you Bishop and Church in the Now where ever you may journey.

Anonymous said...

Ruby Anderson-Payne said...

Thanks for sharing Bishop...love you my brother!

Anonymous said...

Natasha Roland said...

Wow and to think I had noe idea when i put that post on your wall yesterday. I had just got done praying,lol. There shall no evil befall theeeeeeee. Neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. Praise God, praise God....................It's YET YOUR Time NOWWWW! -Eccl. 3: 1,11

Anonymous said...

Lloyd Peacock said...

Dear Bishop Swilley, we often hear pastors talk about church growth and larger buildings. This has been a subject that has been on my heart recently. I don't believe God's plan of church growth is about buildings, but living stones. I have looked at the folks in our church; Rainbow Community Church of Vancouver, B.C. and I see true "Church Growth," not in how large the building we worship in might be. But in the spirit of our people, and the love they have for Jesus, and their willingness to serve. We go where He calls us to go without hesitation. In doing this His Church will flourish! May He always bless you and surround you with His love and protection

Anonymous said...

Jewell Alexander said...

Love never fails!

Anonymous said...

Sholanda L. Smith said...

God is so good all of the time. It may look dim now, but His light shines past all of the negativity, the gossip, the impending danger.

We know that He is alive in all things. Change is inevitable, and in change lies God's promises for our future. I know that God is a supernatural God. One who never forsakes us, and answers every prayer that we send up (maybe not in the way the way that we would like, but he does answer). He shows up in remarkable ways, and he refines us and purifies us through our tests and trials. I am going through my own test right now. He is refining me. What I promise to do is to never give up hope and to always have faith. He will answer....on time. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

Janice Jarrett said...

God Bless and keep you Bishop and be more real to you and your familuy now more than ever!!! Love.

Anonymous said...

David Moorman said...

God is indeed good all the time. God will be with you Bishop through all the changes. Praying for you and you congregation!!

Anonymous said...

Amen Bishop! Like someone else said "it's all good because it's all GOD"! Praying for you, CITN, and my own job situation. God is giving us all everything we need in this moment. In the NOW all is GOOD because GOD works in the NOW!
Praise GOD for our daily bread! We are not fearful of tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

Ingrid Bryant said...

I have always loved your transparency Bishop. Through everything, we know that are ordered. This, of course, is not easy, to live through or share. However, God is faithful and true to his word. The vision never returns void. The members of CITN are like family and you still are my #1 Bishop. May God lead everyone through this transition. Love you and Pastor Debye. Everyone is in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Karl McIntosh Cobos said...

Thanks for the words bishop, wasn't there today (sick in bed) but was praying and there in spirit. Thanks to P. Debye for the note and the love in it. I love all you guys!

Anonymous said...

Karl McIntosh Cobos said...

This great fire will cause us to shine even brighter when we're polished, and the world around us will be in awe of what God has done!

Anonymous said...

Marcia DeArmond said...

Father, let The Body @ CITN grow even stronger as a family and join hands to praise You for the new journey ahead. We pray that our “LifeSong” sings out to the world and creates a safety net for those with open minds and open hearts, just as Bishop’s and his family’s LifeSong has done for us here. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…Amen.

Anonymous said...

Marcia DeArmond said...

Thank you, Bishop... don't think we can be shaken...

Anonymous said...

David Moorman said...

God is indeed good all the time. God will be with you Bishop through all the changes. Praying for you and your congregation!!

Anonymous said...

Bill Shafer said...

God's RICHEST blessings on you, your family (both biological and CITN family), and your continued ministry! You all continue to be in my thoughts & prayers!

Anonymous said...

Greg Crawford said...

I love you and I am continuing to keep you in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

David Jensen said...

I can't stop thinking about and praying for you and everyone at CITN today. I actually had a hard time sleeping last night, and part of the reason for that was because you all are on my mind right now. When I start to worry and get concerned about your situation right now at CITN, God helps me to remember that He is in complete control of this situation, and good will definitely come out of this situation. Bishop, I firmly believe that God has something very special in store for you and everyone at CITN. You all have my full love and support, and I pray that you are feeling His love, support, and strength today. You all will get through this challenging time. The love and support that people have for you far outweighs anything else.

Anonymous said...

Brian Cordova said...

I am convinced that God is giving out a mighty call to all of His children and that Bishop Swilley is one of His great instruments!

Melissa Hall said...

"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come" - Joseph Campbell

<3 <3 <3

Anonymous said...

Dea Smith said...

I love you Bishop and family and I truly miss Atlanta, the Cathedral, D.E. and CITN and you...God bless you all!!!

Anonymous said...

Darlene Runner said...

Thank you Bishop and Pastor Debye for your love of God, dedication, continued belief and love for CITN and "us" as unique people. You are both an inspiration to our congregation, our community and all who are curious, watching, wondering and waiting. To be continued!!!

Anonymous said...

Amy Hamrick said...

I Love yall and I am holding your hand where ever you may lead....

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Thanks, everyone...today was a wonderful day at CITN...your loving support is very encouraging and empowering...I love you all...the best is yet to come...

Anonymous said...

Preacher's Daughter said...

Love it!

Clark Kent said...

Wow! ..I am thrilled to see the love and prayers coming from all around the country, and the world. Amazing.

I believe for the news media to report awesome things and happenings for CITN. - Clark Kent

Anonymous said...

Karl McIntosh Cobos said...

Though I wasn't there physically, I see I'm definitely connected. Thanks bishop.

Anonymous said...

Nonnie Lemmon said...

Yesterday's 9:00 was certainly that - beautiful, full of peace & sweet spirit. Thoroughly enjoyed the spontaneous discussion/ teaching. (re: prophetic realm)

Anonymous said...

Nic Casoria said...

keep that chin up .. just remember trumps gone bankrupt like 37 times ... he seems to do ok .. hair piece and all

Anonymous said...

Richard Wayne Garganta said...

The miracle of CITN continues...nay sayers be blessed!

Anonymous said...

Linda Luke said...

I admire your faith, endurance, and ability to keep loving ppl and smiling no matter what!~Blessings

Anonymous said...

Harold Worthington said...

You're beautiful Bishop

Avatar said...

Jesus wept...
.
.
.
.
.
thank you, John. I am grateful you wrote that down.

If you've ever built a house you know how much like a child it is. I guess for some a building could be a monument to their egos...and for some parents that is also true of their children.

But for some...a building, or anything creative, comes out of them in the same way that a child does. It isn't worshipped. It is lovingly adored.

Thank you, Jesus, for showing me you cared about both temples...and made it okay for me to cry over this one.

Anonymous said...

Yvonne Fuller said...

We are one in the spirit...we are one

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said, Avatar..
and I agree...

Clark Kent said...

I say that you are still able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound!