Rachel's Goodbye


We want to be as good at saying goodbye as we are at saying hello

On Sunday, we experienced both joy and sadness as we prepared to say goodbye to Rachel. We asked her to share with the church the ways God has used you during her time in California. Here is what Rachel shared:

Hey yall! This is probably the last time someone will wear cowboy boots up front in this church.

I first want to thank the pastors for giving me the chance to address the church. As most of you know, next week is my last Sunday. So I am very grateful to have the opportunity to tell all of you how much you have meant to me in the past five years. 

I was so excited to visit this church when I moved here. I had just finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee and had moved to southern California to start a PhD program at UCI. I remember shedding a tear or two when I found a Sovereign Grace Church within driving distance because I attended a Sovereign Grace Church in Knoxville. I expected the congregations to be the same, and to some extent you are: you both love the Truth in the Word of God and yall both sing during worship with your whole hearts.

But in many ways, you are different, and I believe these differences are evidence of God’s grace in this chapter of my life in California. 

First, I learned from you all how to live and walk with Christ daily. I committed my life to Christ in Knoxville in 2012, and I believe the church there helped me develop exponentially quickly as a new believer. However, it was here that I learned how to follow Christ when the high wears off; when you don’t feel like reading and you don’t feel like singing, but you remember God has made a promise to develop and grow His people. I learned here that walking with Christ isn’t going to be steadily increasing every day, but ebbs and flows with a trend that is going toward Christlikeness. We are free to see how we mess up, grow, and change, and that is all part of the gospel plan in our sanctification.

Secondly, I learned to serve here. My other church was big, had many members, and it was easy for me as a college student to slip through the cracks of serving. I didn’t see its purpose until I joined this church. I learned how to serve firsthand because, for one thing, we needed people to fill the roles. We needed people in Children’s Ministry (still do, see the Carbajals if you’re interested), and we needed people on the worship team. I am so grateful to have been able to serve on those teams since 2015.

I also learned about serving because I got to see incredible examples of service in many of you.

I love to see how you all serve each other so well: the meal trains, the home visits, leading theology studies, and hosting small groups week in and week out. I have also often been the recipient of your generosity: I had so many visitors when I had knee surgery last year, I have gotten more than one free pizza after the Picnics in the Park, and I felt welcome in every home I was invited into.

You all taught me to serve through how you love Jesus Christ, and now it is going to be a facet of the church body I am going to specifically look for when I move to Baltimore.

With all that said, I just want to say thank you. This is such a bittersweet end to an amazing chapter in my life, and I believe God is glorified through the ways you have loved me. If I can ask you to do anything, it is to keep loving God and serving each other. I knew I could bring my friends from school to church because I knew they would be warmly welcomed and would be presented with the uncompromised Truth. I can’t wait to see what God does in this church in the next few years. Though I won’t be here in person to see it, I know that He has good for both of us, even when we are a country’s distance away. I love you all and will keep you in my prayers. Thank you!

Rachel’s last Sunday with us is this Sunday (June 16th), so make sure you take the opportunity to send her off well.

LatestDustin Smetona