Pastor leaves Alaska for Pine Lake Covenant Church
August 7, 2012
By Lillian O'Rorke
If you ask the Rev. Mark Meredith if he is a fan of “churchliness” the answer is “no.”
“I hate churchliness,” he said.
He defines the term as being church-bound and thinking that within the four walls of a church is where God is most active.
“We gather on Sunday so we can have our batteries charged so that we can really be about God all week,” he said.
While he has only been in Sammamish for a few weeks and is still looking for a house to buy, Meredith has already started his new post as lead pastor of Pine Lake Covenant Church.
Keeping the lessons of Christianity present in everyday life has been something that has appealed to Meredith since he first committed to the faith in his mid-20s. That was nearly three decades ago, when he was living on Mercer Island and just getting started as owner of a small variety store.
“I felt like that was my calling, to experience God in the business world and find his light there,” he said. “This is my big thing, helping people connect their faith to their everyday life.”
Shortly after joining the evangelical denomination, Meredith met his future wife, Patty. The two were later married in the same Mercer Island church where they met.
Still a small business owner, Meredith took a break in 1990 to attend seminary at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“I didn’t feel called to be a pastor,” he said. “I just felt ‘I want to know more and grow more.’”
Seventeen years after he earned his economics degree from the University of Washington, Meredith graduated from college again in 1993 with a master’s of Christian studies in applied theology. By that time, he and Patty Meredith had three small children — Aaron, Jesse and Sam. The family moved back to Mark Meredith’s hometown of Olympia, where he continued to run his growing business, Meredith Stores.
With the line between his spiritual life and work life already blurred it didn’t seem like that big of a leap, Meredith said, when he decided to become the founding pastor at Community Covenant Church in Eagle River, Alaska.
“I was getting tired of my business,” he said, adding that he did a lot of reflection. “Is this really what I want? Is this what I am meant to do?”
So in 1995, the family of five left the Puget Sound region for Eagle River, a neighboring town of Anchorage. For Meredith, a fan of the outdoors and fly-fishing in particular, the new location was a good fit. But it wasn’t all a smooth transition. With nearly 2,000 miles between them and the rest of their family, it was cold, dark and a hard place to live, he said. But, he added, there were a lot of needs and a lot of opportunities for ministry. In the 17 years he was at the helm, the congregation that started with just 30 people grew to more than 1,000.
“I love watching people experience the person of Christ and then watch the change that comes to their life as a result. It gets my heart pumping, that right there,” Meredith said. “People are really transformed from being greedy to being generous … from marriages that are falling apart to marriages that are healthy. That is the main motivation for me.”
Continuing his own journey this year, he earned a doctorate of ministry in discipleship from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., and decided to move back to the Pacific Northwest. Having arrived in Sammamish on July 4, Meredith led his first Sunday Service at Pine Lake Covenant Church on July 15.
His formal introduction ceremony is planned for Aug. 12. Church organizers have invited everyone in the community to join them that day to celebrate the church’s newest face.