I thought I was done with this, at least for a while... Hard to believe, but the Houston Adventure is coming to an end.
Dear Access Family,
I never thought I would be saying this so soon, but the time has come for my family and I to leave Houston and seek God's next step for our family. We don't know all the details yet, but we'll let you know as soon as we do.
We arrived here in the heat of the summer on August 22, after a wild cross-country marathon. We moved into our house and got our kids in school. Three weeks later we were living through an enormous natural disaster, Hurricane Ike. I've never experienced anything like it... Devastation all around us. Strangers becoming friends in one short day, helping each other clean up, eating together, waiting for our electricity to return together. Worshipping in the dark with no A/C. Instant community.
And then it was on into October and the launch of Access's public worship gatherings at Ashford Oaks. It's been a privilege to pull together the band and lead music week after week and to see our congregation grow from 40-50 to 60-70 almost overnight. I am grateful for the faithful band members and everyone who has helped to make Sunday mornings what they are. December 6 brought my first Vox Culture event, VOX POP. What a thrill to connect with local artists and musicians and to begin to realize the dreams God has for this fledgling nonprofit. The Vox leadership is a wonderful team, and I am excited to hear about what happens with this organization in the future. I was able to lead our congregation through Advent, introducing Access to a more "liturgical" experience than many of you had previously experienced and culminating on Christmas Eve with a beautiful candlelight service. I was able to preach for the first time at Access, and I'm grateful you have walked with me through these formational experiences.
January, February, March... More newness and excitement as we launched Access's Small Group ministry. We sensed a real hunger from people to go deep with one another in fellowship and in study of the Word of God. So many have responded that we are launching our fourth small group meeting in April.
So I'm sure the question on most minds will be, "Why, after all these good things, are you leaving?"
We acknowledge that Access took a great risk and exhibited great faith in bringing us all the way from the West Coast to live and serve with you. It took great risk and faith on our part to say "Yes" and move our family here as well. But we feel that we were not ready as a family to make so many significant changes all at once. It has been a strain on us to leave everything we know behind, and we have struggled to "find our place" in Houston and in the Access community. We have also struggled significantly in our finances. Although Access has paid us fairly, we have been unable to raise the additional income necessary to meet the budget needs of our large family. And finally, as I have wrestled with this decision, it has become clear to me that my skills and vocational desires are probably not a good fit within a church planting environment.
We certainly didn't move our family to Houston with the intent to stay for such a short time, believe me. We believed that we were in this for the long haul, but God's plan for our family seems, in hindsight, to have been "temporary launch team members."
Luanne and I have great expectations as we seek God’s plans for our family’s next season of life and ministry, but we do not currently have a “next step” in place. Thank you in advance for your prayers and support as we seek the plans God has for us. We trust that we are safe in the hands of our loving God, and that when God leads, He provides. We also trust the Lord for what He has in store for Access and Vox Culture. We continue to believe strongly in the mission and vision of Access and Vox, and we know that God will provide and bring amazing things to you as you continue to follow him together as a community.
"The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21) We feel a deep sense of loss, as you might expect, and we pray that our final months with you will be sweet as we process this together and attempt to honor and bless one another in the midst of it. We pray that we will all move forward in grace and love through this transition and into the next steps for all of us. And finally, Luanne and I would appreciate the opportunity to talk with members of the Access community one on one. Please feel free to call, email or approach either of us anytime. We want to help people understand this as well as we can.
With Love and Prayers,
Newgrange and the Religion of the Past
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