A New Chapter

One of the best parts of my job as the Lead Pastor of The Orchard has been standing on stage and sending people off to do something new that they feel like Jesus is calling them to do.

Over the last several years, I've become more and more aware that one day it would be time for me and Sarah to take our turn.

That one day has finally turned into a day.

This morning at The Orchard, we announced that I'll be leaving the church staff at the end of 2018. Like so many others, I'll be responding to a new call and challenge from God. I'll soon be transitioning into counseling as a vocation and a ministry.

This decision has been prayed over and wrestled with for a long time now.

Over the last several years, I have realized that the pastoral duties that have given me the most joy have happened not on a stage, but around the coffee table in my office. As people have given me the opportunity to listen with them, pray with them, cry with them, and fight with them, I've often had the great honor of being one of the first people to see hope and healing knock on the door of their weary hearts.

I've seen God use enough of my limited time and abilities to be deeply curious about what He could do if I gave Him more of both.

Last year, I began an online masters degree in counseling, and soon found that a new path was being laid out for me. I was so thankful to find Sarah, my friends, and all of the leaders at The Orchard eager to celebrate and encourage me in exploring what direction it might take us all.

It was out of our church community that I heard a new calling. Perhaps the greatest joy of my first ministry career is that I was able to go from being a pastor of The Orchard to being a product of it.


So where do we go from here?

Soon, I'll begin counseling part-time in Oxford and Tupelo. I will also continue to offer Marriage Prep for couples inside and outside the church as I get ready for my next step. There will be more details about all of that shortly.

As for The Orchard, our leaders have been working faithfully and boldly to ensure that we make this transition count as a gain, for the sake of God's purposes in Oxford and for the vision that He has rallied our church around.

Though we aren't able to make an announcement about specifics until May 6th, I can say that I am genuinely excited and believe that the best days of our church are ahead of us.

I'm also excited that my family has the opportunity to continue to be a part of The Orchard after my transition. Not only because it is home for us, but because I cannot wait to see all that God has in store for our church.

There will be time for goodbyes and changes soon, but there are several sermons I have left to preach and projects that I want to see completed in the meantime.


**UPDATE: I'm now seeing clients in Oxford and Tupelo. Find all the details here.

pat ward pastoral counseling marriage prep pre-marital counseling oxford tupelo mississippi

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