3 New Ithacans
On March 25 2013, Felicia, Adam, Sophia, James and I got into our beloved Honda Odyssey and started off on our own odyssey towards Ithaca New York.
Funnily Homer also headed off to Ithaca on his own Odyssey!
Ours had far less perils and dangers.
We arrived on April 2 2013.
So one year has passed.
Our first year as displaced West Coast Canadians now living in a well known college town in upstate New York.
How's it been?
Well, I'm glad I asked.
Spring was a nice time arrive as the town is thawing out of winter.
We were able to take advantage of many of the scenic state parks and hiking trails. Although not as beautiful as the land we left behind, it was still quite nice to be able to escape into nature when we felt like it.
The summer was a nice slow ease into understanding the culture of Ithaca as well as observing the ministry patterns of the new church I was called to serve.
Bethel Grove Bible Church is a small-medium sized church - around 350 on a Sunday AM.
It has an extremely strong connection with both Cornell University and Ithaca College.
This is one of the primary reasons I pursued this position.
The summer was fairly easy as ministry slows down with not many students around.
We managed to go camping and also visit my brother, his wife and newborn daughter in Boston.
And then we hit fall with our feet on the ground running. Ministry picked up quite quickly as we welcomed all the students back.
One of the major things I tackled was organizing and leading our small group ministry.
We took up a model from Randy Frazee's book "The Connecting Church" which is a geographically based model.
Up until this point there were a number of groups that were primarily built around stage of life (married, women's, singles, etc).
So, as was expected, its quite slow when making any kind of organizational change.
Some embraced it wholeheartedly.
Others resisted strongly.
Most were politely ambivalent, not too bothered one way or the other.
But we went for it and slowly the church is starting to embrace this model as a way of both creating community and reaching our community for Christ.
Along with leading this ministry, I co-taught a marriage class with a couple with whom we have become very close friends.
Felicia and I joined a small group.
I preached a couple of times.
I started to offer pastoral counsel to a few men in the church.
We went to NYC for a week - that was a blast!
We took a few day trips up to Syracuse and Rochester (not bad - but not too terribly exciting).
We went through our first American thanksgiving and Christmas which was fun.
In the new year I undertook a fairly large scale project of renting out a movie theater for a special pre-release screening of the "Son of God" movie.
We followed up the movie with small groups and a sermon series.
It was a pretty good success - we sold out the theater of 200 seats with about 40% of the people being guests of church members.
We also launched 12 groups that focused on the life of Jesus for 4 weeks.
I also preached at both services for 4 weeks.
This just wrapped up last week, so I am recovering from an extra busy season of ministry.
All in all, I would have to say this has been a good move for me and the family. Ithaca is a very charming town to live in.
The access to Cornell is very nice.
We are a half days drive from every major city on the East Coast, so when we need a big city fix we can usually get away for a weekend.
The church is very very good - very healthy and made up of very mature and godly elders.
Now let's see what the next year brings.