Hagen leaving Cokes Chapel pastorate
It has been said parting is such sweet sorrow.
This was certainly the case when John Hagen announced his departure as one of the pastors of Cokes Chapel United Methodist Church after 15 years. “I have known since last year God was leading me to something else. At the time I didn’t know what it was, but I knew the time had come for me to leave,” he said.
Once the announcement was made, the process began that ultimately had Bishop Michael Watson appoint Hagen to lead the Lafayette First United Methodist Church in Lafayette, Ga. While it saddens him to leave Cokes Chapel, he is confident that the current co-pastor, Dr. Mark Jordan, will continue to lead the church in a direction set by God.
Cokes Chapel has steadily added to the number of worshipers who regularly attend under Hagen’s shepherding from 35 in 1998 to an average attendance of 175 per week in 2013, but numbers only tell part of the story. Hagen worked tirelessly to extend the church’s reach from the physical building into the surrounding community through the establishment of a top-notch childcare center, championed efforts to build a contemporary worship center and encouraged support for local, regional, national and international mission teams.
Fueled by his passion for teaching, he led numerous Bible Studies and theology classes, which in turn shaped his call to ministry. “Being a Christian is serious business,” he said, “This isn’t only about eternity, it’s the lives of people right now.”
Hagen’s passion for God enabled him to be recognized by the United Methodist Church for excellence in evangelism. In his final sermon at Cokes Chapel, he proclaimed, “I came here to share Jesus with people, and with your blessing, I will do this in Lafayette.”
Hagen will take this commitment to his new appointment.
In 2010 Hagen again expanded the church’s reach when Lighthouse United Methodist Church and Cokes Chapel merged – reshaping the identity of the former Lighthouse church now to the Lighthouse Ministries of Cokes Chapel.
For the first time in the church’s history two services ran concurrently. Hagen led the traditional and blended services, and Jordan led the contemporary service.
The merger enabled the branding of an all-encompassing ministry program that made the combined church stronger than either church could have ever been on their own. The results are extremely positive.
“The last three years serving with Mark have been among the best I’ve had since coming to Cokes Chapel,” Hagen said. The mutual respect and affection between the two men is obvious, which makes Hagen’s departure all the more bittersweet.
“John is a peer and mentor, but more importantly, he is my friend,” Jordan said. “I will miss him terribly, but I know he is being obedient to God’s will.”
Hagen is confident the future holds great promise for Cokes Chapel and for the congregation of Lafayette First United Methodist.
“I trust God based on what He has done in the past, and that’s good enough for me,” he said.