Please join me in welcoming Rev. Annie Duncan as our new Executive Pastor.
The Executive Pastor/Director search team and I unanimously and enthusiastically recommended that Rev. Annie Duncan be nominated to the position of Executive Pastor, and on May 29th at the congregational meeting she was voted into the position.
I have been a part of many searches and this is one of the clearest calls I have ever seen. God spoke decisively. Annie’s strong faith in Jesus, her gifts in leadership and innovation along with her experience managing staff in her various roles here at BelPres and in the for-profit sector made her the search team’s #1 choice.
Annie has already been a gift to BelPres and I’m convinced she will be stellar in this role.
Please join me in congratulating Annie in her new role. I am excited for what God has in store for us.
Dr. Scott Dudley
What’s My Story?
I’m coming up on my 20-year high school reunion. Time flies so fast. If you had told me in high school that I would someday be an Executive Pastor, I would not have believed you. First of all, the thought of speaking in front of large groups of people frightened high school Annie to her core. (I actually used to stay home sick on the days I would have to speak in front of my class…Fortunately, I’ve since grown out of that fear.) But the main reason I wouldn’t have believed you is because high school Annie had a dream to be an artist. She wanted to work in a career where she could utilize all the creativity God had given her.
Is it possible that my new role as Executive Pastor will leverage my creativity in ways I never dreamed?
I think so.
Formed for Ministry
Here’s a snapshot of my journey to ministry:
I grew up in Bellevue with two parents, two younger brothers, and a yellow Labrador. Preschool through my senior year were all spent at Bellevue Christian School and then I headed to Whitworth University in Spokane where I studied art and art history. After graduation, I stayed in Spokane and worked two part-time art jobs. That same year a friend recruited me to volunteer with the youth ministry at Whitworth Presbyterian Church. I argued against it – I’d never done Young Life or anything like that before – but he kept on asking me until I agreed. During a difficult post-college transitional season, this was the highlight. I loved leading a small group of girls and doing youth ministry.
A year later, I moved back to Bellevue and knew that I wanted to continue volunteering in youth ministry. My brother happened to be volunteering with the middle school at BelPres, so I joined him. That summer, I worked as a nanny for a family while spending my free time volunteering with the middle school at BelPres. Knowing that my nanny job was temporary, I continued to apply for graphic design positions in the Seattle area. BelPres was hiring a designer; I applied and they offered it to me with an immediate start date, but it didn’t feel right to bail on the family I was a nanny for, so I turned it down.
At the end of the summer, I hadn’t found a graphic design job. The youth pastor at BelPres approached me about doing a yearlong internship with the high school. At this point in my life, I hadn’t considered ministry as a vocation, but since I didn’t have any other job prospects, I accepted. Little did I know that accepting would launch me into God’s calling on my life as a pastor.
After six years with Family Life Ministries, I headed to graduate school at Seattle Pacific Seminary. Post-graduation, I worked for a year in the for-profit sector at a startup in Redmond, in addition to part-time work at BelPres. At the startup, my abilities working with entrepreneurs to scale business, streamline efficiency, and develop quality user experiences increased greatly. The skills I learned only aid my role in ministry by helping me think outside the box and ask the same questions: How do we scale the ministry we are doing here? How do we develop a better user experience? Both have to do with discipleship and spiritual growth.
Revive the Eastside and beyond
I’ve worked a total of 11 years at BelPres and I am incredibly excited for the years to come. One of my greatest joys in ministry is helping people to hear God’s voice and experience his incredible love for them. One of my strengths is aligning vision and implementing strategy. Looking back at my journey, God’s calling and plan for me are clear.
Words can’t express how thrilled I am to continue to be a part of the ministry and leadership at BelPres. I’ve seen the community at BelPres rise up and respond to God’s call to serve the Eastside. Now the call is to bring the good news of the kingdom wherever we are at: in our school, in our workplace, in our neighborhood.
Christianity Rediscovered, by Bishop Vincent Donovan, discusses the journey from service to evangelism. In it, Bishop Donovan describes arriving in Tanzania at a 100-year-old mission, only to find that no one has explained to the Maasai people in Africa why the mission is there. He writes to the Pope immediately, saying:
“Suddenly I feel the urgent need to cast aside all theories and discussions, all efforts at strategy – and simply go to these people and do the work among them for which I came to Africa…to just go and talk to them about God and the Christian message. Outside of this, I have no theory, no plan, no strategy, no gimmick, no idea of what will come…I will begin as soon as possible.”
Like Bishop Donovan’s experience with the Maasai, I believe this is the opportunity that we, the BelPres community, have before us: To walk with God’s people, and to start a conversation.