I made the announcement in worship on February 19 that our family’s time in Tremont and Illinois is coming to an end. On July 1, I will become one of the pastors at Grace Church in Cape Coral, Florida. Grace Church is a dynamic multisite church with campuses in Cape Coral, Fort Myers, and Fort Myers Shores.
Anyone that knows us, knows how much Brittney and I love the coast. It has always been our plan to retire to the beach one day, so we’re really excited to get this opportunity now instead of later. We’d be lying, though, if we said this hasn’t been a bit of a whirlwind…that a door has opened that we didn’t know would open. Brittney and I are in awe of how God’s hand has been all over this, how He has prepared us for this move in a way that only He could. We wanted to take the time to share the long story here.
For me, it started with a rocking chair. In 2017, I got the chance to join a covenant community called The Order of the Flame through World Methodist Evangelism. I traveled to St. Simon’s Island and spent a week in worship, prayer, and learning with Methodist leaders from around the world and from various Methodist traditions. I felt so at home, and so much like I had found my true tribe, that I returned to Order of the Flame in 2018, 2019, and 2020. It was that last gathering where the rocking chair came into play.
That year, Jorge Acevedo was one of the speakers. I’d known of Jorge for years, and considered him my “mentor from a distance” mostly because we’d never actually had a conversation. Jorge is the lead pastor of Grace Church and for a long time I read everything he wrote and listened to so many of his sermons. After the painful special session of the UMC general conference in 2019, Jorge wrote an article for Missio Alliance that, for once, captured much of what I was feeling about the ongoing struggle in our denomination. I gathered up the courage to approach Jorge. I thanked him for the article, for sounding like an adult in the room, and asked if we could grab a cup of coffee and talk.
About an hour later, I found myself sitting in a cluster of rocking chairs on the front porch of the cafeteria with two of my best friends and one of my ministry heroes. We sat in those chairs for several hours. Jorge poured into us and encouraged us in ministry. It was such an easy conversation, I felt a connection to him as if we had been friends for years. As we exchanged cell numbers before we got back to the schedule of the week, I knew I had found a true mentor and spiritual father.
That was March….the whole world shut down from COVID before we even made it back to Illinois. A couple of months into the pandemic, I learned that Jorge was going to be co-leading a doctor of ministry cohort at United Theological Seminary. I applied pretty quickly and lightly twisted the arm of my best friend, Sarah, to join me. I was so excited to learn more from Jorge during the program. Those 3 years raced by. Jorge and I got closer, he came to Illinois to baptize Evie, and I made several trips to Grace Church as a part of the program. I call him Papi now, and I couldn’t ask for a better friend and mentor.
Let me back up and let you hear some things from Brittney’s perspective……
March 24, 2021
A day I’ll never forget. I was quietly starting my morning. I looked out my kitchen window to watch the sun rise, and suddenly the sun hit the branches on our tree and a big burning, blazing cross appeared! Seriously.
I stared at it for a few seconds in disbelief, and quickly tried to grab my iphone to take a picture but it went just as quickly as it came. I immediately felt God say to me “Something is coming, and I am in it.”
Boy, did it come. Larry and I have experienced so much pain these last couple years that left us broken. And some things are still too painful to share here.
After we lost Larry’s Dad at 58 years young, we both knew we had to start living the life we’ve dreamed of. We can’t wait until retirement. We realized life is short, and retirement is not guaranteed.
If you know us at all, you know we love the beach. We’ve always imagined living on the gulf coast someday.
“Something is coming, and I am in it.”
It’s a long story so I won’t share all of it here.
I recently saw a quote that said
“When things are falling apart, they may actually be falling together.”
That’s exactly what has happened for us. Prevenient Grace.
So when Larry was recently offered a position as one of the pastors at Grace Church in Cape Coral, Florida,
we knew we had to go. We will be moving in the next few months.
Everything that has happened over the last couple years was pointing to this. Every detail woven so intricately and all of the grief made good in only a way God can.
We’re grieving leaving family and friends, but we have so much peace. We can’t deny that God has called us here.
So please pray for us as we make this huge life transition. Pray for our girls as they adjust. We can’t wait to see what God has in store for us there!
Brittney captures this so well. “Something is coming, and I am in it.” When she told me this story back in March 2021, we had no idea what it could have meant. But looking back now, we can see prevenient grace at work so clearly. God was using the good experiences (Order of the Flame, the doctoral program, my friendship with Jorge) and the heartbreaking ones (the death of my dad and others we won’t share here) to open the door for this opportunity.
- Without Order of the Flame, I don’t develop this friendship with Jorge.
- Without developing a friendship with Jorge, I probably don’t join this particular doctoral cohort.
- Without joining this cohort, I don’t get repeated exposure to the great things happening at Grace Church.
- Without the past 5 years as Lead Pastor of Tremont, I don’t grow into the pastor and person I am right now.
- And painfully, without my dad’s death, we’re not in a position to make the kind of down payment we needed to get our home.
So we said yes, trusting that “He is in it.” We’ve seen so much evidence of that, right down to how effortless it has been for me to feel part of the team at Grace. And God has continued to show off. In the whirlwind of saying yes, God has shown His faithfulness in countless ways:
- Our families and friends have been so incredibly supportive.
- My superintendent, while sad to see me go, couldn’t hide his excitement over this new opportunity.
- We found a wonderful new construction home and are already under contract. For the first time in our lives, we’re going to be homeowners…in a home that no one else has occupied.
- We have experienced such incredible peace every step of the way.
We’re grieving leaving Tremont, the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, and our proximity to some of our most important relationships…but we continue to trust that “He is in it.”
So, the Franks are on the move….pray for us!