It sounds like an ambitious goal. It is! But it grabbed my heart and gave purpose for why my wife and I were still in New York City in 2007. Let me back up a little. We came to New York City in the summer of 2002. After 15 years with Global Partners of The Wesleyan Church in Peru we began to sense God’s leading to a different place. As a person who had lived 2o of his years in South America and the rest for the most part in the Midwest, the idea of living in NYC was not something in the forefront of my mind.
Yet after all the years in another culture, especially discovering that I was legitimately a “third-culture kid” (a term used to refer to children who were raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture for a significant part of their development years), I couldn’t imagine settling down anywhere but a large city with plenty of diversity.
When the thought of New York City first came it seemed about as absurd as moving to the moon. I had never been there. My wife is from New York state, but seven hours away from the big city. Yet we found ourselves weeping as we drove through the Holland Tunnel on to Canal Street in March 2002. It seemed we had come “home.”
With our 12-year-old son we moved into Washington Heights in July 2002. Our hopes were high as we sought to plant Every Nation Church with the Penn-Jersey District of The Wesleyan Church. Space and time do not permit me to recount the joys and sorrows of those days. After three years we realized that ENC was not going to have sustainable life. The Penn-Jersey District leadership graciously understood and celebrated our efforts.
Yet we did not sense a release from Manhattan. For about 18 months we worshiped and participated with a church plant in Tribeca. Then in April 2007 we visited Origins Church in the Triad Theater on the Upper West Side. That Sunday morning Charlotte and I recognized that Origins Church, later Trinity Grace Church, was to be our church home.
We had an incredible eight years with Trinity Grace Church! The idea of “Joining God in the Renewal of All Things” was more than a mantra. This was the underlying vision and call for ministry and the incredible planting of new parishes. By 2015 the number of parishes (congregations) in the TGC family had gone from one to 11!
I had the privilege of serving first as an elder. Then in January 2009 I joined the staff of the church as the Pastor of Justice and Care. Charlotte and I also served the church walking with more than 30 couples in their preparation for marriage. Then in March 2012 we helped plant the sixth TGC congregation in Washington Heights. We can only look back over our years with Trinity Grace Church with great love, appreciation and gratitude for the privilege of walking alongside some of God’s choice servants.
One of the greatest gifts I received was being exposed to the larger story of what God was doing through Trinity Grace Church and other churches that had not been on my radar screen previously.
Little did we know that our lives were going to change drastically as we approached the last few months of 2013. That’s where I’ll pick up the story next.