Wrestle. The best word to describe the past 12 months. Wrestling with the thought of leaving a community we have come to adore, and the dream in our heart. Wrestling with the why we had come to New York City and the why we wanted to stay. Wrestling with obedience and a calling. Wrestle. That was 2016.
As we wrestled, we prayed, looked to God’s word and went back to the beginning of why we came to New York.
Originally we came to NYC to learn how to church plant in a major metropolitan area. Justin and I had been a part of two other amazing churches, but we had never experienced local church ministry when everything was new and in its beginning stages. Three years ago we Skyped with Paul and Andi Andrew sharing our heart and desire to church plant. We visited NYC in May 2014, to look for apartments and decide which Liberty Church community we wanted to attend. After attending all three communities and a BBQ at Paul and Andi’s house in the afternoon, we knew our people were in Brooklyn. It felt like home.
The next day Paul and Andi asked if we could meet for coffee. We shared our desire to learn from them, and I still remember Paul saying, “Well we think the best way to learn is to do.” A few moments later we were offered the opportunity to pastor Liberty Brooklyn. In a moment our plans and life changed. Not trying to sound dramatic, but it is true.
We said yes. Yes, to pastoring a new church plant that was less than a year old. And the past two and a half years have been the greatest and most fulfilling of our lives. A gift from God.
We are so grateful to our Pastors Paul and Andi for believing in us and releasing us into our callings. We treasure the friendships and memories (which I hope to write more about in the next few weeks) we have made at Liberty Brooklyn. The moments of life we have shared with our community – weddings, engagements, new births, promotions, birthdays, and passings into eternity. Liberty Brooklyn, we love you.
So there came a moment when we remembered the why we came, surrendered the wrestle to God and listened. To our surprise, God began to speak to us both about returning to Seattle. We both kept hearing, “It is time to go home.” We shared with our pastors our desire to return to Seattle, and our willingness to stay or be released – whatever was best for Liberty Brooklyn. And God quickly shined a light on what and who was best.
So this past week Paul announced that we will be heading to Seattle to plant a church and the amazing JR and Tess Carmichael from Liberty Church Upper West Side will be the next pastors of Liberty Church Brooklyn.
This news is mixed with tears and joy. We are so excited for Liberty Brooklyn. We truly believe it’s best days are ahead with JR and Tess leading the charge. At the same time, our hearts are filled with sadness as we face the reality of saying goodbye to the community we love and the beautiful borough of Brooklyn.
Since the announcement, the top questions we have been asked are…
When are you leaving?
This one is so bittersweet. February 26 will be our last Sunday at Liberty Brooklyn. We are so excited to hand the baton to JR and Tess Carmichael. They are #FiredUp to lead and serve the Liberty Brooklyn community and I hear JR knows the Stevie Wonder version of Happy Birthday, so you are in good hands Brooklyn. Promise.
We will be at Liberty Brooklyn every Sunday in February and having a few nights before we leave where people can just come hang out and we can share a meal together, or pack some dishes. : )
How is Rocco doing?
There definitely have been tears on more than one occasion. Rocco loves NYC, his school and his Liberty family. He told me he wants to make a flyer with a picture of him, the Space Needle and our Seattle address on it so his friends will know how to find him.
Before we leave Rocco wants to visit the observation decks at One World Trade and the Empire State Building – and he REALLY wants to visit the Chrysler Building. Anyone work in the Chrysler Building or know how to get very cute a 4-year-old beyond the lobby?
Is everything ok, really?
YES! Everything is good. This transition is simply one season ending, and a new one beginning. We love Paul, Andi and our Liberty family, and we are still family – just taking all we have learned and experienced to a new city. It is all good. We are good. It is ok to be sad, we are too, we will miss our friends and community. Yet we really want this to be a celebration for the best days are ahead for all of us.
What is the name of your church?
We are being like those first time parents who don’t want to share the name of the baby until the baby is born. We have a name, but want to make sure it fits Seattle, and we won’t fully know that until we get to know her again. No new Instagram account for you to follow… yet.
So we return to Seattle pregnant with the dream of planting a church. Over the next year we plan to take a moment to catch our breath, reacquaint ourselves with the Emerald City, begin to listen to the people of Seattle and become part of the community once again.
And for the next 4 weeks we plan to savor and breathe in every moment we have with our Liberty Church family and New York City.
Brooklyn, we love you.