THE WAIT IS OVER

BY: ABBIE HOEKSTRA

Adopted into a Christian home at age three, Sam Cassese said, “I was a lucky one; I was brought into faith and it became my own at an early age. I always had a very real sense of the Lord’s nearness.” As he got older, he felt pulled toward leadership in the church. Initially he thought he would pursue a career as a middle school band director, then go into ministry later. We paused here to address the “middle school” and “band director” qualifiers that he breezed by (largely because of my confusion and shock), in which he described how middle school was such a formative time because he was surrounded by teachers who “changed the trajectory of [his] life.” Sam recalled a time when his own middle school band teacher pointed to the band major on stage and said, “that’s going to be you up there one day.” Sam saw that come to fruition by his sophomore year of high school. “I am who I am because of the mentors and teachers that the Lord has put in my life,” he said.

While Sam did not go on to pursue a career as a middle school band director, the desire to pour into kids was still there. After graduating from Zion Bible College, Sam served as a youth pastor for over eight years in Vancouver, WA, all the while coaching middle school track on the side. Oh, and his middle school band director went on to be a groomsman in Sam’s wedding.

After eight years of ministry in Vancouver, Sam started feeling a stirring from the Lord that it was time to move on. He felt the Lord telling him that He had been preparing Sam during those eight and a half years to lead. Admittedly, this was a little difficult for him because he thought he would be in Washington forever. But Sam said, “It felt like God was saying, ‘Sam, I had you in this tremendous environment so that I could send you out to lead.’” With the desire from his wife Jordann to head back East toward family, they started praying and searching for jobs. One day, Jordann found this posting from a church on the Eastern Shore of Maryland that was looking for a lead pastor.

Something leapt out at Sam and he started checking out Bay Area’s website. When I asked him what first stood out to him, he said right off the bat, “community. This was a church that did things. You don’t just go to church; you are the church.” Next was the approachability of our leaders, citing Greg and Mary Kaye’s anniversary video where Greg mentioned how “pastor” isn’t his first name. Just after that were global missions and investment in the next generation. Ultimately, it was what Bay Area Easton was looking for as a church that values preaching and a pastor that would lead them through Missional Communities that felt like a fit to Sam. So he reached out, applied and soon accepted the role. Long awaited and prayed for, Sam Cassese was hired as the new Lead Pastor of Bay Area Easton.

How is Sam approaching his vision for Easton? By asking: “Why did God plant this church in this community? What is he trying to accomplish for His Kingdom?” Through prayer and fellowship with God, he is already starting to get bits and pieces. As the pieces come together, he believes the church can be mobilized even more significantly for the Kingdom. Sam’s dream for Bay Area Easton is that God would be glorified, “the fame of Jesus Christ spread over the Eastern Shore.” For that to happen, he says, “We gotta feed the sheep.” His life verse is found in Colossians 1:28-29: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” Sam says, “The Lord has lent me His bride to get ready for the wedding day.” It’s important that the bride is growing holy, blameless and above reproach. And lastly, Sam wants Easton to be a church that seeks the welfare of the city.

To the Bay Area Easton family specifically, Sam says this: “We are the church. I’m excited to lead a church that doesn’t have a building just yet because it helps us to remember that church is not just a place that we go to... it’s a people, and we are infiltrating this community – we are diffusing the gospel through our workplaces and our neighboring.”

When he’s not at work or preaching on Sundays, you can find Sam playing chess or ultimate frisbee, deep in a good book, or hosting people at his house. He and his wife love having people over for food and fellowship, and I’m sure as restrictions continue to lessen, they may just invite you over.

As Sam, Jordann and their three kids continue to settle in, join us in praying for them: that Sam would settle into his new role, that their family would settle into their new home, for good relationships and favor in the community, for their kids to acclimate well, and for protection from spiritual warfare.

Welcome to the family, Sam! We’re so glad you’re here and are excited to see what God does in Easton through you and His church.