Some of Our Story…
We (Joan and Randy) thought it might be good to tell you why we are in this ministry. Joan and I grew up in the same housing project in Newark, NJ and came to Christ through the ministry of Calvary Gospel Church. Our background is very urban (inner city) and cross-cultural.
In God’s mercy we were both able to go to college and both graduated from Covenant College, which is the denominational school of the Presbyterian Church in America. While students there we were involved in a little mission Sunday School known as Third Street. This ministry was focused on a poor African American neighborhood in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
During Randy’s junior year the mission added worship services and he began to help with the preaching. Randy and Joan moved into the neighborhood after getting married and stayed to continue preaching for a year after finishing college. In 1973 they moved to St. Louis to attend Covenant Theological Seminary and were involved with Grace & Peace Fellowship and then took a youth pastor position at Sutter Avenue Presbyterian Church to do urban youth ministry, primarily in Wellston, Missouri.
Joan worked as a social worker in St. Louis, and when Randy was called back to Chattanooga to organize the mission as a church (now called New City Fellowship), she worked again for the State of Tennessee Department of Human Services. Randy served as the lead pastor of New City from 1976 until he stepped down and became the Pastor Emeritus in 2012. During this time he also served as an Army Reserve Chaplain, retiring as a Colonel in 2007, having been mobilized three times for Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
During their time at the Chattanooga congregation Randy and Joan were given a leave of absence to pastor a church in Nairobi, Kenya for two years. Randy had been involved with Prison Fellowship and became the acting PFI-Africa Director for one year while living in Nairobi. Randy is the author of a book called “Merciful, the Opportunity and Challenge of Discipling the Poor Out of Poverty.”
While serving as pastor of New City Fellowship, Mission to North America asked Randy to voluntarily serve as the Coordinator for Urban and Mercy Ministries. In 2012 Randy took a staff position with MNA to coordinate Urban and Mercy and to build the New City Network. This is a position for which Randy and Joan raise their own support.
New City Fellowship was and is a congregation committed to the African American and poor communities of Chattanooga. It is a cross cultural ministry, attempting to live out the power of the Gospel especially in reconciliation and justice. It has focused on ministries of evangelism, mercy, economic development, indigenous leadership, and the radicalization of the middle class into justice discipleship. In God’s providence other New City congregations were begun around the country. The Network is an attempt to bring them together for mutual support and encouragement.
Randy and Joan have four grown children and eleven grandchildren as of this writing. They continue to live in Chattanooga and worship at New City whenever they are home.