Eugene Cho will officially step down as lead pastor of Quest Church on September 30, 2018. In the interim between Pastor Cho and a new lead pastor, Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil will lead the Seattle, Washington-based church as its “Transitional Pastor.”
“My goal is that we’ll be as spiritually, relationally, organizationally and financially strong and healthy as Pastor Eugene Cho has left us. May it be so, Lord!” McNeil wrote in a Twitter post.
Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil’s Qualifications to Lead
McNeil, an associate professor at Seattle Pacific University, is currently on the pastoral staff of Quest Church. In roles previous, she served on the staff of InterVaristy Christian Fellowship and on the Boards of Directors for InterVarsity, Wycliffe USA and Christians for Biblical Equality. McNeil earned a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary, a Doctorate of Ministry from Palmer Theological Seminary and is ordained through the Evangelical Covenant Church (the denomination to which Quest Church belongs). She is also a prolific speaker and author. The bulk of McNeil’s work has been concerned with the topic of racial reconciliation.
In an Instagram post, Pastor Cho expressed his confidence in McNeil and the ability of the church to move forward.
View this post on Instagram
Minhee and I had always pledged, prayed, and believed that when and if the time came for us to step down from @SeattleQuest, it would be at a time of health and flourishing for the church. Quest is far from perfect but we’re so grateful for what God has done over the past 18 years….and what God will do in the coming years. Transitions from founding pastors happen only once and while the transition is only the beginning, I’m so grateful to share that Pastor Brenda Salter McNeil will be serving and leading Quest as the “Transitional Pastor” as the church officially launches its process to find the next lead pastor. She shared this past Sunday, “My goal is that we’ll be as spiritually, relationally, organizationally, and financially strong and healthy as Pastor Eugene has left us.” Certainly, I’m grateful for those words but I’m excited for all the various gifts, creativity, and leadership she’ll bring to Quest – especially during this important transitional time. Y’all know her as an incredible preacher and rightfully so…but more importantly, she truly and genuinely embodies what she preaches. It’s also not lost on me on the significance of having a woman of color serve our church, in our facility that was once formerly the headquarters of Mars Hill Church, in our city, and in our current landscape. Above all, may we continue to bring honor and glory to Christ in all things. May Quest continue to be a beacon of the whole Gospel in our city and beyond. Lord, may it be so.
Quest Church has a diverse pastoral staff and leadership, but Cho recognizes the significance of naming McNeil as interim pastor. “It’s also not lost on me on the significance of having a woman of color serve our church, in our facility that was once formerly the headquarters of Mars Hill Church, in our city, and in our current landscape.” (To understand more about the meaning behind that statement, please refer to Sarah Zylstra’s article at The Gospel Coalition.
Quest Church Is Sad to See Pastor Cho Go
While the church is very sad to see Pastor Cho go, the elders emphasize the future will be positive and forward-moving for the church. “A church is not about a single human leader; a church is a family of human believers who come together to worship, to serve, to listen to God,” elder Tim Sneath told the church earlier this summer.
As far as Cho is concerned, he and his wife, Minhee, are taking a step back from the church to allow the new pastor to settle in without distraction. In a letter explaining his resignation, Cho offers some details about what the next steps may look like for the couple.
For the foreseeable future, we hope to maintain our presence in Seattle. Minhee will continue her practice as a therapist, and I will continue my part-time role at One Day’s Wages. I am grateful to be able to be more intentional about investing and encouraging churches, NGOs, pastors, leaders and missionaries throughout the world. We won’t be taking a staff position anywhere in Seattle but if God relocates us to another city or country in the future and if God opens a door, I may join a church as a part-time teaching pastor but we don’t want to limit God with our ideas.
One Day’s Wages is a nonprofit organization that Cho founded to fight extreme poverty throughout the world. Pastor Cho and Minhee founded Quest Church nearly 18 years ago.
McNeil is scheduled to serve as interim pastor of Quest Church from October 2018 until March 2019. According to the church’s website, starting in January 2019, a Lead Pastor Nomination Committee comprised of elders and at least three non-elder representatives from the membership of the church will search for a new lead pastor. Once the committee has selected a candidate, the elder board and the congregation will vote on whether to hire that person as the new lead pastor.