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,” Hagen said. “At the time I didn’t know what it was, but I knew the time had come for me to leave.”
Once the announcement was made, Bishop Michael Watson appointed Hagen to lead the LaFayette First United Methodist Church in Lafayette. While he says 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. He was recognized by the United Methodist Church for excellence in evangelism.
“Being a Christian is serious business,” he said, “This isn’t only about eternity, it’s the lives of people right now.”
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.”
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 United Methodist Church 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 last three years serving with Mark have been among the best I’ve had since coming to Cokes Chapel,” Hagen said.
Jordan countered, “John is a peer and mentor, but more importantly; he is my friend. I will miss him terribly, but I know he is being obedient to God’s will.”
Hagen says he is confident the future holds great promise for Cokes Chapel and for the congregation of Lafayette First United Methodist. When asked why he is so hopeful, his response was simple, “I trust God based on what He has done in the past, and that’s good enough for me!”