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Rolling Hills pastor retiring from church he founded in El Dorado Hills

By: Penne Usher, Telegraph Correspondent
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By Penne Usher Telegraph Correspondent The congregation of 92 used to meet in the multi-purpose room at Oak Ridge High School, now there are more than 2,000 members on any given Sunday. Jeff Bigelow started the church and he is now moving on after 17 years as pastor of Rolling Hills Church. ?I felt it was time in my life to do something else. I felt like I?ve been doing pastoral church related work since 1979 ? over 30 years total. It?s time, personally, for a change.? Bigelow did not make the decision hastily. ?It?s very hard for us. It?s bittersweet,? he said. ?It?s hard to leave a place that you?ve been a part of for 17 years. My wife and I would agree that it?s been the most fantastic 17 years of our lives.? Since its humble beginnings the church grew from the multi-purpose room at the school to a space at the Community Service District and ultimately the church at 800 White Rock Road. ?The area has changed dramatically. I walked a lot and went door to door to invite people to come. Fortunately, there weren?t as many back then,? Bigelow said. Pete Bernardoni has known Bigelow for 20 years and is a member of Rolling Hills. He said Bigelow?s departure is the ?end of an era.? ?He?s been a bit part of our lives in El Dorado Hills. We wouldn?t have known about his place if it wasn?t for him,? he said. ?The church has been a big part of our family the entire time we?ve been here. (Jeff) put in a lot of hard work over the years and I totally support his decision.? Jeff along with his wife, Jerri and two children, Meredith and Joel, moved to El Dorado Hills in 1995. In the early years, Jeff Bigelow wrote in a letter to his congregation, ?my family shouldered much of the load, and without their help it would have been much more difficult. I was 40 years old at the time, and maybe like Moses, God used the first 40 years of my life to prepare me for what would be His most significant work in my life.? Bill Search is coming out to California from Kentucky to take the helm of Rolling Hills. ?We think we found an excellent guy,? Bernardoni said. ?Jeff will be sorely missed and he?s done an amazing job.? He said that he feels Search can take the church into the future. ?This guy can take the church to the next level of growth,? he said. ?He brings a different set of skills.? Reached by phone last week, Search said he and his family are looking forward to the next phase of their lives in California. ?We are looking forward to experiencing California and are excited to join Rolling Hills and be part of the fabulous community,? he said.