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June 14, 2013

Church leadership passes from father to son Sunday

CLINTON — Forty-four years after he arrived in Clinton to revive a failing church, Pastor Jim Machen Sr. will pass the senior pastor role at the Church of the Open Door to his son, Jim Machen Jr., tomorrow on Father's Day.  

It's a challenging transition for the father and son, who have both watched the church grow during the past four decades.  

"Bittersweet I think is the word. Sweet because it's sweet to get to a place where God is calling you. But it's a little bit awkward because it means taking a place where my dad is at. So that's interesting and challenging at times. But we both know we're doing what God is calling us to do," Jim Jr. said.  

Jim Sr. and his wife Sharon came to Clinton on Father's Day 1964 to develop Foursquare Church, which had already seen a dozen pastors come and go in its short history. The couple was charged with developing the church. If they couldn't accomplish that task, it would be closed.  

In the past 44 years, the church has dramatically expanded, including a move to its current location at 816 13th Ave. North. It's now known as the Church of the Open Door, the church that love built.  

After stepping away from the senior pastor position, Jim Sr., 74, plans to refocus. He will continue ministry by serving on the international board that oversees more than 60,000 churches nationally and internationally, and ministry in the church and community.

Jim Jr., 43, who has served as an associate pastor for the church for the past 17 years, said he always knew he wanted to be in the ministry and looks forward to fulfilling his calling by leading the church.  

"It's something that has been growing within me," Jim Jr. said.

Jim Sr. is eager to give his son the responsibilities of preaching and directing the church he and the community have nurtured.   

"I feel very honored to pass the mantle of the ministry to my son on Father's Day. The moment I am most looking forward to is the transition from my heart to his. When I lay my hands on my son in front of the Lord to impart on him what the Lord has given us grace for," Jim Sr. said. "This will lift from me and be imparted on my son so I can refocus what I can do."  

As they prepare for the transition, both father and son contemplate the potential for the church to stay relevant and reach beyond the more than 500 people it already serves.  

"I don't want the church to grow old with me," Jim Sr. said. "I hope the church takes off and will be able to do so many more things than I was able to do."  

Jim Jr. also anticipates sharing the transition with the people that have made the church what it is and contribute to its continued success.  

"I am most looking forward to the people. It's not about me. It's not about my dad. It's about the church and the church is the people," Jim Jr. said.  

Transition services will be 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. on Sunday at the church, 816 13th Ave. North.  

A reception celebrating Jim Sr. and his wife, Sharon, will be from 2 to 5 p.m. today. The reception is open to the public. 

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