Old high school pals, Tom McReynolds and Duane Smiley, are switching roles.
McReynolds, pastor at Bread of Life Fellowship in La Grande for 10 years, is moving full-time into his furniture and custom-cabinet building business.
McReynolds has turned over the pastor's duties at Bread of Life to Smiley, who recently had worked in auto and home security sales in Portland and is a former Portland police officer.
McReynolds and Smiley first met in 1975, when they were sophomores at Portland's Madison High School.
"I had just become a Christian," McReynolds said.
"He (Duane) was the first Christian I met at Madison."
The two became good friends, sharing their interest in Christianity and fun times on the basketball court.
"I have great respect for Duane, and I had respect for him when he was in school," said McReynolds, 42.
The friends lost contact for about 17 years, but their relationship was rekindled in 1995.
After majoring in Bible studies at George Fox University in Newberg from 1977-81, Smiley balanced church ministry with other vocational interests.
Smiley was a youth pastor in Portland and in California from 1978 to 1981.
In 1982, he was involved in missionary work in the Philippines, living with a native pastor and helping with evangelistic crusades.
From 1989 to 1994, Smiley was a Portland police officer, serving under Chief Charles Moose.
Smiley took Bible courses at Portland Bible College in the early '90s. He went on to be part of a church planting and Bible teaching ministry in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, from 1996-97.
In 1997, Smiley was invited to come to Bread of Life Fellowship to conduct a youth conference.
Since then, "he's been coming over once a year to share and preach to the body," McReynolds said.
"The church responded well to Duane," McReynolds said.
Before moving to La Grande, Smiley had served as an elder, preaching and teaching at New Song Community Church near Portland's Emanuel Hospital.
McReynolds, who lives with his wife, Miriam, and their children in Union, said he started thinking about moving out of ministry to his wood-working business more than a year ago.
"I decided a change was necessary," he said.
McReynolds said attendance at the church on Cove Avenue grew from 22 people when he moved from Salem to become pastor in 1992.
"It went up to 90 people in the first year," he said. Recently attendance has been in the 150-to-180 range.
McReynolds never left his furniture and cabinet business while pastor. Recently, he had been devoting 15 hours a week to the ministry, and working nearly full-time at his business in the Bearco Business Park off Island Avenue.
McReynolds said church members have stepped up in various leadership roles to allow him to spend only part of his week at the church. Leaders of Sunday evening home fellowship groups, for example, help care for the congregation.
But McReynolds saw the advantages of finding someone who would devote more of his time to the ministry.
"I knew the church needed a full-time pastor to move beyond the 150 or so people," the veteran Bread of Life pastor said.
"I went through a year-long process of working it out in my heart," he said.
"I wanted to leave (the church) when it was healthy, and I was healthy. I wanted the transition (to a new pastor) to be full of faith, joy and positive momentum.
"I decided I would not resign until I was convinced there was a man who would take the pastoral baton and lead the church into its potential."
Bread of Life's board of directors gave McReynolds the opportunity to choose that man.
One day when McReynolds was pondering who the new pastor might be, he received a call from Smiley.
"He told me that he was looking at becoming a full-time minister," McReynolds said.
"God set that one up."
McReynolds invited his old friend to La Grande.
"The board gave the thumbs-up," McReynolds said. "The church has embraced him. It has been a very positive response."
Smiley said he is being sent to minister in La Grande by his church in Portland and its pastor, Richard Probasco.
"He's like my spiritual father," Smiley said of the minister. "He's been my pastor for 20 years."
Smiley in his first weeks in La Grande has been focusing on building relationships with the people in the church and making friends in the community. His goal, he said, is not to pull people away from other churches but bring people to faith in Christ and invite the unchurched to Bread of Life.
The church, McReynolds and Smiley said, will soon have a new name, New Song Community Church.
Church gets new name
The name, they said, is the same as the one for Smiley's church in Portland. But it also reflects the strong emphasis on music during the 10:30 a.m. Sunday worship service. Music will last 45 minutes or longer.
"The Lord is sending a new song to this valley," said Smiley, 43. He and his wife, Theresa, have three children ages 15, 8 and 3.
McReynolds said he is continuing to attend Bread of Life but has pulled back from ministry.
"I want the church to look to Duane as their leader," the former pastor explained.
After three to six months on the sidelines, McReynolds will plug back into the life of the church.
"I'll have to figure out where I fit in," he said. That place of service might be on the music team. McReynolds enjoys playing the acoustic guitar.
Meanwhile, the old friends are forming a new bond, involving one of McReynolds' passions Â— archery.
McReynolds will be teaching his high school pal how to bow hunt.