Colette M. Jenkins

The Rev. Tim Armstrong, founder and senior pastor at Mansfield’s Crossroads Community Church, has been identified as the candidate to become the next senior pastor at The Chapel.

Armstrong, 50, was selected from a pool of 200 applicants. He will spend the next five weeks getting acquainted with the people who make up The Chapel family and the Akron-area community. On May 4, the congregation — which worships at campuses in Akron, Green and Wadsworth — will vote to decide whether he will become their next pastor.

“The more time we spend with [Armstrong], it keeps affirming that he is a good candidate to be our next pastor,” said Todd McKenney, chairman of The Chapel’s board of trustees. “He’s had 18 years of experience in one place — building a church community — which is evidence of faithful servant leadership. Of all the applicants, he was No. 1 for preaching and teaching, which is a strong tradition at The Chapel. He’s a very good fit for us.”

The local nondenominational church, which draws about 5,000 to worship services, has been without a senior pastor since the Rev. Paul Sartarelli stepped down in January 2013 to pursue a calling from God to a new ministry. Sartarelli and his wife, Susan, are now working to plant a church in the Cincinnati area (Fresh Winds Church in West Chester Township).

Since then, the congregation has been led by the church's five-member pastoral leadership team, which includes three campus pastors and has been led by an interim staff leader.

A 12-member search committee was commissioned last February by the board of trustees to begin looking for a senior pastor. The committee, with the help of a search firm, collected 200 applications as part of a national search. Armstrong emerged as one of two finalists and was subsequently identified as the first choice by the search committee and recommended to the congregation by the board of trustees.

“My wife [Michelle] and I have prayed about the opportunity to preach the word of God and reach the Akron area for Christ and we sensed the calling of God. When you sense the calling of God, you really can’t do anything but accept it,” said Armstrong. “The first time we went to The Chapel, we felt at home. We are seeking the Lord’s will and we are sensing this is where the Lord wants us to be.”

Armstrong said that while he accepted the invitation to be The Chapel’s senior pastor candidate, it has been difficult to consider leaving a church that he started 18 years ago, after earning a graduate degree in theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. The Mansfield native also earned an undergraduate degree in pre-seminary studies at Cedarville University.

The nondenominational Crossroads Community Church was started with 30 people. It has grown into one of the largest congregations in Richland County, attracting more than 2,000 people to weekly worship services.

“[Armstrong’s] approach to preaching and his philosophy of the pulpit are strong indicators that he will be a good fit for The Chapel. He’s a Bible teacher — his sermons are based on what the Bible says,” said the Rev. Jim Mitchell, interim staff leader at The Chapel. “He’s got experience as a senior leader. He has great character and integrity and a sense of pastoral warmth. I think members of our congregation will see him as a good, solid candidate.”

The Armstrongs were married in 1991. They have 16-year-old twin daughters, McKenna Kate and Isabelle Grace and a 9-year-old son, Jack Hudson.

As part of his candidacy, Armstrong will be available at church events beginning April 22. He will preach at all services on May 4, the same day that the congregation will vote.

If Armstrong is confirmed, he will become the fifth senior pastor in the nearly 80-year history of the church, succeeding Sartarelli; the Rev. Knute Larson, the Rev David Burnham and the late Rev. Carl Burnham. The Chapel’s main campus is located at 135 Fir Hill in Akron.

“It’s very humbling to be called by another board and another church,” Armstrong said. “We are trusting in the Lord’s design and we will be obedient to his call. Our goal is always the same — to impact and serve the people.”

For more information about The Chapel, a video introduction of the Armstrongs and sample sermons by Armstrong go to www.the-chapel.org. More information about the Mansfield church can be found at www.crossroadswired.com.

Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or cjenkins@thebeaconjournal.com. She can be followed at www.twitter.com/ColetteMJenkins.