Christ in the Capital of the World
Her husband, Jonathan, heads New York City Urban Project, a campus ministry of InterVarsity. Priscilla says, "If we want to change the city, we have to start in our home. Our ministries will thrive if our home thrives." Newly married and in their 20s, this is reflected in part in the Waltons' decision to eat logoff (local, green, organic, fair trade, slave free), and to worship in a multiethnic church in Elmhurst, New Life Fellowship, where they hope to raise their biracial children.
Public Service Is Ministry
Alan Farrell believes that God is using his efforts "to redeem God's creation." In particular, he is "committed to strengthening fathers and families," which is one reason he was grateful for the chance to lead NYC Dads: The Mayor's Fatherhood Initiative.
In his early 40s, Farrell is a second-generation Trinidadian raised in the Bronx by his mother and grandmother. Growing up he had little contact with his father, though today they enjoy a relationship. While his father would send birthday cards through his teenage years, they only reconnected at Farrell's college graduation. "Fatherhood is never too late," he says.
Farrell came to Christ in college, after which his faith was formed at Miracle Provider Church, which serves a largely African American and Caribbean community in Wakefield, a neighborhood in the Bronx. There, new immigrants work hard to establish a future for their families. The Miracle Provider community, some 300 people strong, encourages their young people in their faith and life path.
After college, Farrell earned a master's degree in urban policy from the New School, attended City Seminary (where he met his wife, Janice, who serves on the faculty), and today works at City Hall. He spearheads NYC Dads, coordinating 12 city agencies that help fathers become better dads.
Farrell's work takes him from meeting with young men at City Hall to speaking on a panel on faith and fatherhood at a Queens church, to attending a fathers' support group in Harlem. He regularly convenes city agencies to review how they can better support all fathers, especially black and Latino fathers.
Through it all, Farrell doesn't come in with all the answers. "When I work with citywide organizations and nonprofits, I start from a point of learning. My conversations are invitations and pilgrimages into communities."
What Farrell does know is that God cares about families and fathers and the communities where they live. He's committed to living his faith with passion and commitment through public service, caring for the common good wherever God gives him an opportunity. It is a story that flows from his being in the city and seeing it through the eyes of faith. As he says, "public service is ministry."
The Oyesiles, the Waltons, Pan, and Farrell are, without calling attention to themselves, demonstrating a lasting engagement in the life and health of New York. Ministry is woven into everyday life. In tune with how the city works, they are thinking and living in Christian ways whereby small changes combine to make critical differences.
As the Lord told Paul when he first arrived in Corinth, concerned about his ability to do ministry and find partners there, "I have many people in this city." Christian faith is growing through the unpredictable energies of the Spirit and the dynamics of a globalizing city. Flowing from the love of God for the city, its shoots are sprouting in ways no one could have planned.