After living in Brooklyn for two years, Sarah and I are planning to move to Minneapolis, MN sometime in mid-September, about 6 weeks from now. It will be a sad transition, but necessary for both ministry and personal reasons.
Although I am still on staff with Immigrant Hope, my role has changed significantly in the last year. We moved to Brooklyn in September, 2011 to help open the pilot Immigrant Hope center and learn how a center opens and operates. The center opened in October 2011 and now has 5 legal workers who have seen around 100 clients. About 6 months ago, I began pulling back from the day-to-day operation of the center to allow local, long-term staff to lead. My main role now is to help other churches in other cities walk the same road. Brooklyn is just one of several centers I am working with, located from California to Georgia. Minneapolis is a good, central launch point for my frequent travel.
Minneapolis is also the site of our biggest city-wide Immigrant Hope initiative. Working with an organization called Transform Minnesota, we have gathered over 50 churches from several denominations to coordinate immigration ministry in the Twin Cities. We are planning to have a conference in October, followed by an IMMIGRANT PATHWAY Institute 40-hour training in November. From those events we hope to launch several Immigrant Hope centers in Minneapolis, run by groups of local churches.
Lastly, the EFCA National Office is located in Minneapolis. Working out of that office will give me the opportunity to collaborate much more with other EFCA staff and programs. Moreover, my boss, Alex, visits Minneapolis at least once a month. That increased face time will help us work together even more effectively.
Sarah and I love our neighborhood (Bay Ridge) in Brooklyn, both for its own qualities – the family, working class ethos; the amazing blend of cultures and ethnicities; the unparalleled quality and variety of food – and for the personal milestones we have experienced here – our first apartment as a couple; our first time being members of the same church; and the birth of our first child, Anders. If we were picking a place to live on sheer personal preference, this neighborhood would be hard to beat. Unfortunately, we are facing the same reality that millions have before us: it is impractical and expensive to raise a family in New York City. We have been able to live in our church’s parsonage for the last year – a tremendous and unexpected blessing – but at some point we will need to move out to make room for a new senior pastor. It has become very clear that, after 5 moves in 3 years, we need to find a place to settle down for a few years at least. Finding that kind of stability, with room to grow, that we can afford, means moving out of Brooklyn. Moving to Minneapolis will allow us to continue living in a diverse, vibrant city with a large and growing immigrant population.
What’s more, I have been working from home while we have lived in Brooklyn, and Anders is only getting more distracting. He can crawl now, and is well on his way to walking. He loves attention and feels the need to be involved with whatever you are doing, especially if it involves a computer. In Minneapolis, I will have an office at the EFCA National Headquarters. I can only imagine where Immigrant Hope will go when I move my office out of the house and my productivity suddenly triples.