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Leadership Transition

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Over 20 years ago, Pastor Jeff Nelsen began praying that he could one day lead Cherry Hills in a healthy transition, as Pastor Gary had done with him in 1998. Then 5 years ago, Jeff began quietly working with a couple of the Elders to contemplate a transition plan giving the lead pastor role to younger leaders before he reached retirement age, so that our church might reach the widest age range of people possible. 


About a year ago, before covid started, Jeff initiated the process of transition, working closely with the Elders. And now, after a year of conversations and prayer, they're in complete agreement that this is the right time to transition.  On April 5, 2021 Jeff will step into a new role on the Cherry Hills staff, and hand his lead pastor role to Pastors Steve Patzia and Brian Schwarberg.

The Elders have prayed, planned, and considered this transition for the past year, seeking first biblical counsel, as well as outside counsel in this process. The Elder team unanimously affirm Steve and Brian to become the next Lead Pastors of Cherry Hills Church, following Jeff’s leadership transition on April 5, 2021.


send Jeff a noteq&a recording 1/20/21

The Journey of Succession
The Journey of Succession

A year ago (before Covid), Pastor Jeff humbly shared his thoughts that we needed to begin to plan for a pastoral transition. He didn’t believe he was ready for retirement, but believed that for the well-being of Cherry Hills, we should initiate a plan for “passing the baton,” similar to the path taken by Pastor Gary 22 years ago. Through much discussion and even more prayer, the Elders felt the counsel of the Holy Spirit leading us to bless Pastor Jeff in a plan which would allow him to transition to a new position in which he continues to use his gifts here with us to further the Kingdom.


We also felt moved to affirm Pastor Brian and Pastor Steve as Co-Lead Pastors. We believe these Godly men will continue to bless the congregation of Cherry Hills as they lead in humility and rely on the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We ask for your continued prayers for our pastors during this time of transition. We eagerly await the unfolding of God’s plan for the next chapter of our church.


Randy Harhausen, Presiding Elder

Elder Team
Brian & Steve
Brian & Steve

Many times, churches choose one leader and the other goes to another church to lead. That’s what most churches would do, but Cherry Hills is not most churches. For years, we have chosen collaborative leadership and we're excited about the future with these two leaders using their unique gifts to work together.


About Brianabout steve


send brian a notesend steve a note

Watch Now

Jeff, Brian and Steve sat down to share about their journeys to this transition.




Frequently Asked Questions

How did Jeff come to this decision?
Why now?
How do the Elders feel about Steve and Brian stepping into this role?
How will two Lead Pastors work?
How was this decision determined and finalized?
What will happen to Jeff after April 4, 2021?
What does this mean for the church? What will change?
What are we asking of the congregation?
Still have questions?