Continuing to Faithfully Serve
Stephen Black’s Statement Concerning Separation from First Stone Ministries
August 4, 2023, Oklahoma City, OK – I am very grateful for the outpouring of care and concern I have received in the last few days. I received many phone calls, emails, and text messages, all beautifully well-meaning in a desire to be a support and inquire about my spiritual and moral condition. I am eternally grateful. This outpouring of love and concern was a result of the First Stone Ministries’ (FSM) press release on Wednesday, August 2. I had asked the Board of Directors (Board) of FSM to issue a joint press release with me but unfortunately, they issued the press release without my review or input. A joint press release would have answered many of the questions that have been in the calls, emails, and text messages. The statement was for the purpose of announcing my replacement as executive director and my resignation. But unfortunately, the statement did not explain that my resignation was not for ethical, moral, or immoral failure. I want to assure those seeking my care that I am not and was not in ethical, moral, or immoral failure. Unfortunately, this was not clearly communicated and for some in the media and ministry, this clarification was and is of utmost importance. After serving FSM for 32+ years (22 as Executive Director) without any sabbatical for refreshing and development, I needed some time off to seek the Lord for personal care, care for my family, and to quietly hear from the Lord on what He has for me in the upcoming most productive years of my life (all the books and experts say that your 60s are the most productive decade of a person’s life). I am truly very grateful for the last few months of time to seek the Lord and get wise counsel from friends and spiritual leaders. I can happily say that by the end of the short but much-needed and appreciated sabbatical I had gained some very valuable spiritual vitality and refreshing in the Holy Spirit which showed me that God was moving me in a new direction (more on that below).
I am very grateful to God and the Board of FSM for allowing me the 32+ years of serving the ministry, with the last 22 years serving as Executive Director in the development of FSM where it is today. It was a pleasure to work on the development of the staff, and other leaders who are now serving around the world. It has been an extraordinary honor. Please know that I only desire the very best for the FSM Board and staff. I hope and pray for the prosperity of all involved in FSM. Ministries like FSM are needed today more than ever before. I pray this change will only bring multiplication of more ministry for the glory of God.
There comes a time in serving anywhere when it becomes necessary for change for the benefit of all. This time became obvious to me this last Spring. The Board, out of concern for me and my family’s care and wellbeing, requested I take a sabbatical (even though FSM graciously had a written policy for staff to take a sabbatical every 10 years I had never taken one) to seek the Lord for healing and refreshing. I was blessed to receive many hours of soul care each week during my sabbatical time. As I listened to wise Spiritual counsel and reflected on the past and present and anticipated the future, the Lord’s direction for my life became clear and obvious. It was clear that I needed to go a different direction in serving. It would no longer be the highest and best use (stewardship) of my time, talents, and energy to mentor and lead the FSM staff. I loved developing and working with the FSM staff over the years but my true love and equipping from God is writing and teaching/leading at a national and international level. I sincerely wish Laura Leigh all the best in shepherding the staff and working with the Board. I am now on a new and exciting journey in seeking the Lord as His ordained minister into a time of more development to faithfully serve the Church at large. Now, without the administrative duties of overseeing FSM staff, operations, finances, etc., I am able to fully carry out God’s call on my life and more fully devote my time, talent, and energy to pastoral care, speaking, other ministry development, and writing. I am excited about this new season God has brought into my life. I have a new book coming soon, and other new ministry announcements will be forthcoming which will bring further clarity. I am currently continuing the much-needed sabbatical for a few more months to allow further soul care for me and my family. Therefore, please continue to cover us in prayer and support for these next six months or so. I sincerely thank each and every one of you who has reached out to me and welcome your communications and prayers. To contact Stephen Black, please use the online Contact Form.
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Additional information for continued ministry and support is forthcoming at www.stephenblack.org.