Jared Woodward and his wife, Deanna, founded Six-Fourteen Church in 2011, so it’s natural to associate them with the church.
But, as Jared Woodward leaves the Masury church as its lead pastor, Woodward and other church officials stressed that Six-Fourteen is not his church.
“I left this church to you,” Woodward said from his knees Feb. 28 as he prayed for the Methodist congregation. “I left these people to you. They were never under my care. They were always under yours. Let them be reminded of that this day. Let them not remember anything but the truth.”
The truth is that salvation awaits those who put their faith in Christ, and judgment awaits those who remain indifferent, even after they’re exposed to the truth of the gospel, he said. It’s not his message, he said, it’s God’s.
“This pulpit, as I have said innumerable times, is not a platform for opinion,” Woodward said. “It’s the truth. This truth needs shared. This truth needs to resound – resound from these walls. This truth needs to remain the foundation of Six-Fourteen Church.”
Woodward, who recently became a father for the fourth time, announced Jan. 31 that he was stepping down as lead pastor to become chief education officer with the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley. He said he still will be around and pledged to keep preaching until he has no breath left, even if his only audience is his dogs.
“I pray for Six-Fourteen, as they continue on, that you allow this church to grow, to spread the gospel and that each and every single person here will love you more and more and more,” James Hunter said in a prayer after Woodward had completed his message. “We can’t thank you enough for Jared and his ministry. We can’t thank you enough for Deanna and her ministry.”
Woodward was good at building relationships with members of the congregation, said Jennifer Evans of Hubbard, who grew up in Masury and serves on the Six-Fourteen leadership team. She counts herself and her family as friends of the Woodward family, and called his last service “pretty emotional.”
“We’re excited to see what’s gonna develop,” she said. “We don’t know too much, yet. God has a plan for everything, so we’re here to help the transition.”
Transition is hard, Hunter said, but Interim Pastor Chris Bratton said he will follow Woodward’s lead until Pastor Jessica Schnegg takes over on July 1.
“I’m just gonna dive as deep into the word as possible, and trust that Jesus is gonna take care of the rest,” Bratton said. “Jared is definitely leaving behind quite the pulpit. We’re just gonna do what we’ve always done and that’s solely rely on God. He always shows up.”
The church will continue with its community outreach efforts, and Bratton said ideas are being thrown around for an Easter activity, possibly similar to the drive-through Christmas giveaway.
“This is truly a community church, and it will continue to be so,” Hunter said.
Parishioner Mario Mancini of Masury said he will miss Woodward, “but he’s gonna do well elsewhere, and the church will live on.”
Church officials prayed for the continued growth of the church, and Karey Martin of Brookfield is part of that growth. She had been looking for a new church, and attended the Jan. 28 service upon the recommendation of family members.
“Today’s my first day here,” she said. “I really enjoyed being here. We’ll be back. I’m sad that he’s leaving. I really enjoyed it.”