Former Newberg pastor releases book
Although he moved to Tampa, Fla., more than three years ago to start a new ministry project, former Newberg resident and pastor Zach Elliott has always remembered the Camellia City fondly.
So much so that he and a local friend, Rebecca Sandberg, worked together on a book project, which was recently published. Titled "Now I See: An Invitation to Life to the Full," the book is due out on July 21. Elliott and his wife Cammie will travel from Tampa for a book launch event at 7 p.m. July 13 at the Church of the Vine in Newberg.
"We're excited about it and it's pretty fun to share it," Zach Elliott said.
Elliott and Sandberg both said the book is about inviting people to look at the world and their faith differently.
"It's a conversation that we say we want to inspire a fresh conversation about the gospel," Zach Elliott said.
He added that early on in his pastoring career, he wrestled with things that Christians say are true to their faith, but are often missing from everyday practice. He said that idea came up around 15 years ago, but he never intended to write a book about it.
"But I began to think about the gospel and Christian life and how it should be lived," he said.
He brought that attitude to his duties as a pastor and was told he should write down his thoughts. And as luck would have it, he had the opportunity to do so once he relocated to Florida to start a new project.
"This book is for people who may be struggling," he said.
Elliot previously moved Hillside Fellowship and its ministry project, the Hillside Inn, to Newberg in 2011. The couple founded the first iteration of the Hillside Inn in their Wilsonville home more than a decade before and in many ways the transition the family is making now echoes the one it made in moving to Newberg.
The idea of the now-defunct Hillside Inn was to create a refuge where young adults, primarily between the ages of 18 and 30, could take a break from the modern world to examine themselves and their faith. The inn's slogan was "A place for prodigals" and was loosely based on the L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland.
The Elliott family lived in the upper half of the split-level dwelling, while two young people lived rent free downstairs, which had its own entrance. During that time, the "guests" were mentored by the Elliotts and received support from Hillside Fellowship.
The Elliots decided to take that model to Tampa and form a new inn in 2016.
Sandberg said she and her husband are close family friends with the Elliotts, and remained so even after the latter moved to Florida. She added that they worked on the book together for about three years, with Elliott doing the writing and Sandberg helping edit his work and collect and organize his thoughts.
"He was telling me about it and I love to organize thoughts and love to help people put their thoughts in an organized way," she said. "So it was a really enticing project to me because he wrote this compelling manuscript and I was editing."
Sandberg said the book is an open, gentle invitation to "live a life of fullness and wholeness and not necessarily make drastic, whiplash changes, but an invitation to sit and ask difficult questions and help people change their perspectives on difficult things."
Elliott and his wife will return to Newberg this month to visit friends. While here they decided that would be a good opportunity to unofficially launch the book.
Published by Lost Poet Press of Tampa, the official launch will be July 21 when the softcover comes out. However, Elliott said it will be available on July 13 on Kindle as part of their unofficial launch.
"I think the exciting thing and the greatest hope for the book is that there is a depth of vitality and fullness to our life," he said. "In between God and our neighbors we are most alive."
He added fulfillment of life flows from those two relationships – between God and neighbors. "If we rediscover that we can find our way back to those things we were hoping to find in our faith," Elliott said.
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