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Willingdon pastor resigns


John Neufeld at Willingdon Church’s 50th anniversary celebration

John Neufeld, lead pastor of Willingdon Church, Burnaby, B.C., has resigned, effective immediately. He served the congregation for 15 years.

In his final sermon, Sept. 7, 2014, Neufeld told his congregation he felt it best to leave Willingdon at this time “because of [the church’s] vision and future direction.”

Willingdon is considered the largest Mennonite Brethren church in Canada and has actively planted or assisted in planting a number of churches, including Westside Church which recently moved into the former Ford Theatre building in downtown Vancouver.

In 1999, Neufeld moved to Willingdon from Abbotsford’s Bakerview MB Church, where he had served as preaching pastor and lead pastor. Prior to that, he taught at Columbia Bible College, Abbotsford, and planted Peace Arch Fellowship (now Gracepoint) in Surrey, B.C.

Neufeld invited people to follow his future plans via his blog, “Meticulously Sovereign.” God’s sovereignty has been an overarching theme throughout Neufeld’s preaching and teaching career.


 See also “John Neufeld appointed to Back to the Bible Canada”

Edited Sept. 10, 2014.

Updated Dec. 17, 2014: link added.

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Al September 11, 2014 - 14:00

Pastor John Neufeld’s resignation from Willingdon MB Church has hit me very hard. Our Pastor, so gifted and faithful in preaching and teaching the Word, will be missed. And that is an incredibly great understatement. That there has been such a divergent sense of direction in our church is troubling.

Anonymous September 12, 2014 - 12:53

We have the utmost respect and confidence in Pastor John’s leadership and faithfulness to God’s Word, so we are confused, troubled and wonder what could have been so serious that it led him to decide it best to leave.

Barry & Rebecca McCarthy September 12, 2014 - 21:21

We echo the sentiments above. Pastor John’s move is confusing, troubling and heartbreaking.
We, and we are sure others, are hoping that something will be forthcoming from the elders
regarding his resignation. The fact that “the vision and direction of the church” was John’s reason for leaving is very disconcerting.

Anonymous September 13, 2014 - 22:56

It is concerning in regards to the abrupt and emotional departure. It is a time to be in unity as a congregation. It would be wonderful if Pastor John could express clearly his concern for the change in vision as it has always been stated is that Willingdon Church is to serve The Lord Jesus and bring others to Christ. Church planting has been part of that as well as bringing up and training new Pastors. If Pastor John has had a vision or word from the Holy Spirit, it should be up to him to declare it not the church to guess what he meant. We learned the truth of the gospel and pray its clarity will continue with the leadership.

mons September 14, 2014 - 15:16

Like most of us, we too are shocked and confused, but as part of the Willingdon’s small group, I encouraged all of us to pray – first for Pastor John and his family. Second to the leadership of Willingdon, third, pray for one another. I am confiden that this move does not surprise our God and He has control of everything. God has always been, and will always be in control of His church – and Willingdon is God’s church. We pray for comfort and understanding, peace and joy and for an intense knowledge of the truth that our Lord is looking after us now as He did yesterday and will do tomorrow. We pray that this knowledge will lead us to bring glory to Him.

Anonymous September 14, 2014 - 15:17

In Pastor John’s last sermon before he went on sabbatical, he promised he would have a surprise for us in the coming months. I wonder if he saw this coming even then.

I too worry about the future of Willingdon. The transition of leadership from the late Pastor Carlin to Pastor John had been a smooth one, but it doesn’t seem like Pastor John was preparing anyone to succeed his position. Our pastoral staff have been rather volatile for years, and I don’t know if we have a clear candidate who could take on his mantle. I fear most of our pastors are too young and inexperienced.

I wish Pastor John and the elders had been more forthcoming before it came to this. I feel prayer from the church body could have helped. The elders at Willingdon were going to meet with members of the congregation today. Has anyone heard anything new from them?

Richard September 14, 2014 - 19:18

When there are hints alluding to what may be more substantial undercurrents in the direction or ministry of this church, yet no clarity is given, it can lead to greater discouragement and worry than is warranted or necessary. Any event or situation serious enough to lead a senior pastor to resign, especially when for reasons other than God’s leading toward another position or ministry, should not be left half in the dark. The resulting unhelpful speculation will most likely do greater damage than an honest and open explanation.

Newton Sun September 17, 2014 - 01:14

I was very upset when I heard Pastor John resigning immediately before the sermon. Although the next week, Pastor Jonathan together with elders and pastors in the church stand on the stage showing the doctrine and the belief have never been changed. My concern is the fact that there is no pastor in Willingdon who can preach at Pastor John’s depth and insight.

Laura Kalmar September 18, 2014 - 09:24

Thanks to everyone for leaving your comments. There’s always some grief and sadness when a pastor resigns. Please know that we’ve passed along your messages to the leadership at Willingdon.

Cecilia May September 21, 2014 - 17:23

The abrupt departure of Pastor John Neufeld is very disturbing and has been very hard on me. He has been a good shepherd of Willingdon Church. He is faithful, devoted and gifted in his preaching. His sermons are insightful with strong biblical backing. I missed his sermon already, I do not think there is any pastor in willingdon that can preach as good as he can.

Richard Chapman September 22, 2014 - 01:06

“We have this treasure in earthen vessels. . .” God will speak to our hearts through the weak ineffectual work of any servant who is completely obedient, no matter how eloquent or how tongue tied. Look at Moses’ arguement with God over how he couldn’t speak well enough.

Dr. Matthew Todd September 21, 2014 - 23:49

we sensed when a surprise sabbatical was announced for pastor John that there was some missing preparation for the congregation for this extended sudden absence. The sudden resignation reinforces the concern. May God give wisdom to the elders to navigate this transition – its understandable that not all matters of discussion regarding such things can be packaged in digestible bites for the congregation, so may the congregation trust God’s working in the midst of transition.

Jorge September 23, 2014 - 11:02

As pastor John has always taught, God is sovereign. If we say we believe God then we should believe His sovereignty. I am sure this will be for the best, both for pastor John and Willingdon. He is in the best of his years and the church as well. I am sure God wants to use him and share his gifting with the rest of the body and Willingdon will embrace other men and women who will grow and be equipped to continue our Lord’s ministry.
Let us pray with gratitude God works His will among us, even when we don’t like it. God is God and not us.

lance evans September 23, 2014 - 16:09

john made the difference.because he has HolySpirit.Just look in his eyes.

Hannah Seah September 24, 2014 - 13:18

Yes, its been a great blessing to sit and hear the refreshing Word of God preached especially after a time of anointed worship & praise at Willingdon Church.

May the Holy Spirit of the living God also shine brighter & brighter within each of us as we continue to fix our eyes & look only to our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ. As His sheep,our Chief Shepherd is making us pass under His rod of love during this time of emotional loss.

JR September 26, 2014 - 02:04

Dear pastor John
We truly miss your sermons. I have been following your blog on Corinthians and it has been good.Is there any chance of live sermons down the road on your blog?

Laura Kalmar September 26, 2014 - 11:06

Thanks for your comment, JR. I encourage you to post your question on John’s blog, as I’m not sure he is reading comments on this site.

Magdelene and Keith September 27, 2014 - 18:31

We echo the sentiments of shock, sadness and confusion over the sudden departure of Pastor John. We have since arriving to Canada the past 8 years been searching for a church that “feeds His sheep” . We finally found Willingo on and Pastor John, whom we believe the Holy Spirit led us to learn from. We grew tremendously both in our spirit and in His Word through Pastor John’s sermons, his and Kathy’s humility and readiness to serve. We are praying for Our Father’s direction and really miss Pastor John’s teachings on Sundays since he left on the also sudden sabbatical.

Aurora Bumatay September 28, 2014 - 10:28

His blog doesn’t accept comments. I’ve tried several times already.

TUSEVO NZEZA MUNDELE September 28, 2014 - 14:55

HI Pastor john neufeld,is me reverend pastor Tusevo nzeza mundele,from africa in angola,province luanda i nite pocoperation from you church.
God bless you,verry mathi.

Michele September 28, 2014 - 16:16

It was heartbreaking for me and my whole family to hear Pastor John’s resignation. He has the anointing of God upon his life and it was evident in every sermon he preached. He is a man after God’s own heart, obedient and uncompromising! It was so refreshing and empowering to hear him speak every Sunday. God used this man in a mighty way in our lives and we would not be who we are today if he hadn’t been willing to boldly and courageously share the uncompromising Word of God with us. He did it with gentleness, humility, and with love in every action and word he spoke. I have no doubt that his resignation was given after much prayer and seeking God’s wisdom. We were so blessed to have him as our pastor and continue to be blessed through his blog. God is meticulously sovereign!

dee October 6, 2014 - 03:21

My family and I have been in Willingdon since 1999. We were there when Pastor Carlin passed the role of senior pastor to Pastor John Neufeld. Pastor Carlin did great in this. Pastor John’s sermons and his ability to make the complex understandable with passion and sensitivity were greatly beneficial to those serious about their Christian living. My family and I deeply miss Pastor John and his wife Kathy. I have downloaded all his sermons and notes from the Willingdon Church website so I can learn and relearn what he taught. We are still continuing to attend Willingdon Church and we see people trying to move on. But the people who attend and serve can see that the current leadership (pastors, elders and guest pastors) will not speak of Pastor John. It’s like they are trying to erase our memory of this great pastor with their current series on the book of Acts.

dee October 6, 2014 - 03:34

Also, do you notice that in Willingdon Church’s website, under partnerships, there is no mention of the British Columbia Mennonite Brethren denomination. It used to be in their website that they were an MB church.

Vicky October 8, 2014 - 00:39

I was very disturbed when Pastor John resigned.There is no other pastor who can preach like him at Willingdon Church,he is ireplaceable.His preachings are phenomenal,very smooth and always to the point where he is very truthful. I was really puzzled why he resigned.He is a perfect preacher who can get attention of many church goers. When he prays for me on one occasion,i felt that the HOLY SPIRIT was with me. I miss him.Sorry, he is a lost for the church.

Another Michelle October 8, 2014 - 00:48

Our family has been attending Willingdon for 20 years now.
Every sermon John gave I wondered if this is what it felt like to get to hear the likes of Moody, Wesley or Spurgeon live.
I sincerely believe John may be one of the greatest expository teachers ever.
He brought profound -PROFOUND knowledge regarding historical, geographical and cultural context. He wove it all together with brilliant logic, wisdom, balance and maturity. Then there was his deeply loving and sincere heart. He was so clearly anointed. Every week we felt that much better equipped not only to face the world around us, but share the love of Christ with that world.
We are gob-smacked about his resignation . We have had many concerns over the years regarding Willingdons ever increasing attraction based efforts. The conciliation was that someone like John was on the inside. If there was ever a “closed fist” issue, surely he would let us know. We can not believe John would be so clearly deeply troubled and actually resign over an “open fist” issue.
We miss him terribly. The volume of silence on the issue, even from John himself, is deafening.
We ARE praying and yes God is sovereign- it’s still gonna bite big time when we get it wrong.

Rob Loeffler October 12, 2014 - 09:28

Can I get a definition within the church what an “increasing attraction based efforts” means and what closed and open fists mean?

Richard Chapman October 12, 2014 - 20:44

This is not ‘from within the church’ per se, but I think the person meant that Willingdon Church is pursuing programs more to increase attendance than to disciple existing believers. That would be an opinion, and may or may not be the case.
As to ‘open’ or ‘closed fist’, that may be a transliteration of a phrase from the writer’s cultural or linguistic background that is incomprehensible in English without their explanation.

Anonymous October 12, 2014 - 22:48

I could be wrong, but I understand “attraction based methods” to be using methods designed to draw more people in to the services. As for “closed fist” and “open fist” issues, I understand “closed fist” issues to be biblical doctrines that are central to the gospel and our faith and aren’t open to differing interpretation or opinion amongst true followers of Christ (eg. the deity of Christ, His death and resurrection etc.), whereas “open fist” issues are peripheral issues on which believers can and do differ in interpretation and opinion (eg. eschatology, Calvinism vs. Arminianism etc.).

Immanuel October 10, 2014 - 12:17

I’m still waiting to hear what this “vision and direction of Willingdon Church” is that caused Pastor John to step aside…..

Anonymous October 10, 2014 - 19:01

The silence indeed is deafening, we all miss Pastor John’s messages, a wonderful man of God. We need to know what this new direction is to be, and who will lead us.

Karla Braun October 17, 2014 - 17:27

Thank you to everyone who took the time to leave their thoughts on this news item. The comment feature is now closed to further discussion.
–MB Herald editors

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