Transitions at Valley Baptist Church, Merced

After 35 years as senior pastor at Valley Baptist in Merced, Steve and Lorraine Moldenhauer are joining a mission to minister in rural churches across the West who are between pastors. They started their ministry in a rural church near Redding, CA in 1973.  After serving for 5 years in Spokane, Washington they came back to Steve's home church, Valley Baptist, in 1982. Steve states, "We never intended to stay in Merced this long. We took it a day at at time." The church sponsored Merced Christian School so their four sons spent almost every day at the church until they went off to college. Lorraine became the pastor's secretary in 1988 so it was truly a family affair.  Over the years there have seen setbacks, like the closing of Castle Air Force Base in 1995 when half the church left, but with that came great opportunities. In 2005 the University of California opened a campus in Merced, which brought a big influx of college students and teachers into the church. Steve was privileged to serve on the NextGen board from 2005-09. Seeing how churches flounder when a long tenured pastor retires, Steve called an associate in 2014 with the goal of making an intentional transition out of the pulpit. Pastor Steven Gatdula has served in every area of ministry and was given a unanimous call to be the next pastor of Valley Baptist on August 20.  Pastor Steve Moldenhauer preached his "retirement" sermon on the transition of leadership from Moses to Joshua from Numbers 27:15ff titled "Passing the Baton" on August 27, 2017. Thank you Steve and Lorraine for your faithful service to the church and community of Merced!  We are praying God will bless you both as you step out in faith to minister to rural churches across the west.