FAQs regarding upcoming WACC transitions  

We understand that "transition" can be a scary word, so we have done our best to anticipate and answer as many questions as possible below. If you find yourself with other questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to reach out the WACC Staff or Elders. 

Why is Jim stepping down from his position as Sr. Pastor of WACC?

After what will be 27 and ½ years of leading WACC as it’s Sr. Pastor, Jim feels like it is time for him to step out of this leadership role. While this may be a surprise to many, the Eldership has been aware of the coming transition, and a transition task force of current and former Elders, appointed by the Elders, has been praying about this, studying transitions, and allowing God to lead them forward in preparing for this event over the past 5 years.

Who/What is driving this change?  

In a word—Jim. As mentioned above, Jim approached the Elders with this intention approximately 5 years ago to give them plenty of time to act on WACC’s best interests in planning for the future.  Jim says, “While nothing beyond the Lord and my wife and kids (and granddaughters!) has blessed me any more than my long association with WACC, there comes a time when a church needs a shift in pastoral leadership; after decades of plugging along in the same place, you get tired. The church deserves fresh and more energetic pastoral leadership, with strong value for the past but at the same time new or renewed vision for the future, and trusted voices that can lead them there.”

What is the timeline for the transition?

Jim will continue to serve in his role as Sr. Pastor until September 30th of next year. Many elements of the transition have already begun, and you have seen them in shared time in the pulpit.  Behind the scenes, there has also been a lot of work done in realigning job descriptions and responsibilities so that there will be no lapse of pastoral leadership when Jim formally steps aside.  There will be plenty of opportunities in 2024 to celebrate both our 75th anniversary as a church and the Shelburne family’s almost three-decades-long contributions to WACC and God’s goodness through it all!

Who will assume pastoral leadership role(s) when Jim is gone?

After a significant amount of time spent praying, investigating, seeking advice, considering options, and diligently seeking God’s leading, it is the unanimous consensus of the Eldership and Transition Task Force that WACC already has exactly what it needs to move forward as we face this change.  God has already provided well-known, well-loved, and well-trusted men to assume the post.

To this end, Lennie McCay will become the Lead Pastor of WACC and Shane Wyly the Associate Lead Pastor. They will be assisted by Jake Earls and the rest of our capable staff, all serving, as always, under the guidance and oversight of our board of Elders. Lennie and Shane will form a leadership team where Lennie will be the first among equals. (That means the one at the top will likely either get the credit or the blame 😊) Lennie, Shane, and Jake will form a preaching team to allow for a consistent, balanced provision of excellent teaching from the pulpit without wearing one guy out and the opportunity to utilize their gifts and thus bless the flock. This shared responsibility will also allow Lennie and Shane to continue overseeing many of their current roles of responsibility with the same excellence and dedication they have shown us for years.

What immediate changes should we expect?

You’ve already seen some of them with our utilization of a preaching team over the past couple of years. As 2024 unfolds and progresses, Jim will continue to preach less and the other team members more. Apart from this, there will be very few changes that are immediately visible to the congregation. As 2024 unfolds, to ensure a smooth transition, Jim will begin handing off different pieces of his job description to Lennie and Shane as well as to Jake and other staff members as needed, and he will be involved daily in guiding the transition.

Of course, there will be inevitable changes, but we don’t even know what most of them are yet. Significant transition always results in ripples of change as leadership changes and new leaders bring new or renewed vision.  It will be different, of course, without the only Sr. Pastor (at WACC) that most of our WACC members, Elders, and staff have ever known. However, the leadership (both staff, elders, and general board) will be very cautious about making additional significant changes in the immediate future as we adapt to a new normal.

Who can I talk with about this if I have more questions or concerns?

While you may speak to any Elder, three of our Elders have been deeply immersed in this process for all or most of it. Tim Merrill, our current 2023 Elder Chairman and member of the Transition Task Force, Scott Green, our current 2023 Chairman of the Board and head of the Transition Task Force, and Dane Williams, a member of the Transition Task Force and our incoming 2024 Elder Chairman would all be uniquely qualified to hear your questions and concerns.

How can we best support Jim and Holly Shelburne during what must be a significant and bittersweet transition in their lives?

One reason we have announced the transition many months before it occurs is to provide time to spend with them and say a loving thank you and farewell. They will need this time also to adjust to what’s coming in their lives and to be able to say their own loving farewell to WACC.  Any significant change in life involves grieving. This is a healthy kind of grief, but still necessary. It takes time.

There will be numerous opportunities to love and appreciate them in the coming 10 months. Here’s Jim again: “I will only need one funeral, and I don’t plan for this to be it! It is so wonderful for us to have been loved and supported by WACC all of these years and to have had such willing followers and co-leaders.  But let’s make this more about Jesus and less about us. Let’s give him all the praise, thanksgiving, and glory for the past many years we’ve had together.”

Where will the Shelburnes be after the transition is complete?  What’s next for them?

Jim’s answer: “We aren’t looking too far ahead at this point, but we are open to God’s leading to be used by Him in whatever ways He chooses.  We won’t be sitting around! The one thing we will NOT do is compete in any way with the programs at WACC.  I won’t be starting up another church across town, and I won’t ever compete in any way with your excellent pastors at WACC. We will look forward to seeing you from time to time but will be keeping an appropriate distance so as to allow your capable pastors to lead without living under the present shadow of the ‘ghost of pastor past.’ We value WACC too much to interfere with her health and growth as she moves into a vibrant new era of service to Christ.”

What can I do as a church member to help this transition be successful?

Pray, pray, pray for WACC and this transitional season! Pray for the Elders, pray for the staff, pray for the members, pray for Jim and Holly.  Pray that God would fortify and protect the deep spirit of unity that has existed here and do everything you can to foster that unity and preserve it. Pray for Lennie and Shane, and their families, as they shoulder the load of increasing opportunities.  Pray for the WACC staff and other leaders as this represents a change and significant adjustment for them as well.

Beyond seeking God’s protection and help, just do what WACC members have always done to make this church a special place:
Trust the Elders. They serve WACC by the Lord’s calling and by your affirmation. Their hearts beat for you, and they never want anything for WACC but what will bless it and empower it to the glory of God.
Trust the pastors and other staff members. These people have hearts for ministry, and they all love WACC.  They are proven, well-trained and highly experienced, and they have earned and deserve your trust and support.
Trust the Lord, most of all. It is HIS Church; He has always known what it needs and has supplied for that need in the right way at the right time.  Why would we imagine that He would not be up to the very same thing now?  His timing is all over this, and His timing is perfect. Never once has He failed us!
Renew your commitment to the Lord and His Church. Let’s love the Lord with all our hearts and love each other as much as we do ourselves, and let’s love one another the way Jesus loved us. If we do those three things and always remember that WACC is HIS CHURCH, the future of WACC will be solid and bright! There is only one person the Church cannot do without, and that’s Jesus! Let’s continue to always make it all about Him!