The Rev. Jon MacDonald, who has served as interim pastor for First Congregational Church of Redlands since January 2021, was voted senior minister at the congregational meeting, effective April 1.
MacDonald has been serving as dual pastor during the past year — as interim at First Congregational and full-pastor with Restoration Covenant Church. Restoration recently celebrated its 15th year since founded by MacDonald here in Redlands in December 2006. That congregation met for the first three years in the Oasis Church in downtown Redlands and then from 2010 to 2018 at the University of Redlands, mostly in their Hall of Letters, before sharing the Congregational Church Kimberly Hall for Sunday services.
When the Congregational Church's five-year pastor Steven J. Davis resigned in August 2020, and the pastoral search began, MacDonald filled in with occasional guest sermons until January 2021, when he agreed to fill in on an extended interim basis. Much of that time was during strict COVID restrictions when sermons were pre-recorded and then presented via Zoom.
A native of Royal Oak, Michigan, MacDonald grew up in Colorado where his father was a school administrator and pastor. He earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics and a secondary teaching credential from Biola University in 1996, and his master’s of intercultural studies with emphasis on leadership development from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2002.
Immediately after earning his bachelor's degree, he worked with InterVarsity in Rostov, Russia, from 1996-1998.
He received his Russian visa as a student, so he resided in a dormitory. He was a full-time student, and was a leader of Bible studies and a weekly gathering as a missionary with InterVarsity. He notes that learning the language and spending two years learning to live as a foreigner and outsider shaped his mission passions and calling to the ministry.
Returning to California, he taught seventh- and eighth-grade math at Miraleste Intermediate School in the Rancho Palos Verdes school district.
He continued tutoring in math and SAT preparation while studying at Fuller Seminary and working at Rolling Hills Covenant Church as an intern with their high school ministry.
He married Lindsey in August 2002 and began his first ministry as a youth pastor with First Baptist Church of Yucaipa from 2002-2005, before founding Restoration Covenant Church in 2007.
MacDonald said, “It was an incredible honor to be asked to be the interim pastor, but to be called to serve as senior minister of First Congregational Church and steward its long history is among the highest honors I’ve ever received. I am grateful for the opportunity and excited for a new chapter to be written.
“This unique opportunity to serve at FCC while also serving at Restoration Church frees up resources in both churches to pour back into the community, and allows both churches to work together in partnership while preserving their unique mission and identities.”
MacDonald is the 11th senior minister to serve since First Congregational Church of Redlands was founded on The Terrace in the Lugonia area of Redlands in 1880 before moving to a more “downtown” area of Redlands in 1890.
MacDonald's wife Lindsey grew up in the Sierra Madre Congregational Church where her father was on staff. Her father later worked at Rolling Hills Covenant Church with Jon's father.