Seeking the New City #FromBostonToLA

“…looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” 
- Hebrews 11.10

Gone [Since] November

Back in November, Osheta and I flew to LA to visit a church called New City—the same name we chose for our Boston church plant that closed last year. We didn’t advertise it at the time, but we were there to interview for the role of Associate Pastor. What I didn’t know when I applied was that the church had received over 60 applications. Only when they had narrowed down the field of candidates to ten, did they set up a Skype interview with me a few weeks prior. This in-person visit signaled that I had reached the final stage with only one other candidate in the running.

The weekend we spent in LA was a whirlwind, a beautiful one. Osheta and I were both struck not only by the beauty of the city, but by the beauty of the New City community formed around a vision of inclusivity and centered on the Good News about Jesus. We were impressed by their authenticity and real diversity—not only ethnic diversity, but socioeconomic diversity as well. Osheta was floored by their heart for children living in poverty and the practical ways they express the love of Jesus toward them. We left that weekend visit full of hope and joy.

You may also remember that back in November I attended the annual conference of the American Academy of Religion in San Diego, where I presented a paper in the second session of the Open and Relational Theologies group. Well, it was while I was in San Diego that Pastor Kevin Haah called and extended the offer for me to join the New City LA staff and move to California. We accepted, and we began to plan the best way for our family to make a cross-country move.

I Go to Prepare a Place

We decided the best way for our family to make the move from Boston to LA was as a “staggered” one. This meant that I would go out to LA ahead of Osheta and the kids, begin serving at New City, and hunt for a home where we can land. Ideally, we hoped to limit this extreme separation as much as possible, but any way we calculated it, it was going to be at least 5 weeks!

For the last four weeks, I’ve been living in Los Angeles, learning my role, learning the community, and learning the city. I’ve had to do a lot of learning in a short amount of time. People often ask me how am I adjusting to life in LA. Or they’ll ask me what have been some of the strangest things I’ve had to adjust to. The first thing that always comes to mind are the highways. I was warned about them several times by several different people before moving. But I’m not sure anything can prepare you for LA highways and traffic. I’ve lived in several large cities (e.g. Chicago, New Orleans, and Boston), but none of them even comes close to LA in sheer volume of drivers and massive highways. And it’s not that LA has bad drivers. Boston has bad drivers! It’s just that LA has gigantic highways with a massive amount of drivers. I also have found it somewhat odd how seriously everyone takes tacos here. I get that they are an important part of Mexican cuisine. But taco snobbery in LA is epidemic. I fear telling people where I bought the tacos I’m eating because I know as soon as I mention the name, whoever it is that asked will launch into a diatribe including the history of tacos, neighborhoods with the best tacos, and three restaurants with better tacos than the one I’m eating. I also had the idea that Southern California was just always 70 degrees. But the reality is, it can be 70 degrees at noon and 45 degrees at 8pm. The desert climate makes the temperate range widely from midday to evening. So, you’d better wear layers or carry a hoody.

In addition to pastoring every day, my second full-time job has been hunting for a place where my family can land. And, as of last week, we’ve secured an apartment we believe will serve our needs well. House-hunting in LA, especially with a high value on finding good public schools for our kids, was no easy task. And the added component of being far from each other, put a lot of pressure on Osheta and me. At one point we thought we’d found the perfect place. It was in our price range, near good schools, and we seemed to have a good rapport with the landlords. Only a few days after they assured us the place was ours, they changed their minds, created an elaborate story why they couldn’t rent to us, then placed the house back on the market. The ups and downs of preparing a place for my family to live have been draining at times, but I’m thankful to God that we were able to stick it out. We weathered this season with only a few minor storms.

Moving During Snowmageddon

Too bad I can’t say the same for Boston. As I prepare to fly back to Boston on Wednesday, and as we prepare to embark on our 11-day, cross-country road trip from Boston to LA, Boston is currently inundated with a massive amount of snow. This hasn’t made packing and selling off or giving away our furniture easy for Osheta and the kids. They’ve had a tough time getting the house ready to leave. But, by this Friday, everything will either be in a box, at someone else’s house, or on the curb. We’re taking off from Boston on Friday the 13th …cuz we’re just gangsta like that. 😉

But we still have some important needs. If any of you (our Boston friends) would like to help us load the UHaul truck or the “UPack” trailer, please give either Osheta or me a call. We could use the help. Also, if any of you (our LA friends) have furniture you’d like to give us, we have a list of items we’ll need when we land on the 24th.

  • 3 Twin Beds (2 boy beds, 1 girl bed) (We have mattresses)
  • 1 Queen Bed (again, we have a mattress)
  • 2 Night Stands (for Adults)
  • 3 Dressers (for Kids: 2 boys, 1 girl)
  • 3 Bar Stools (for Kitchen)
  • 1 TV Stand
  • 2 Homework Desks (for Kids: 1 boy, 1 girl)
  • 4 Bookshelves (2 for Kids)
  • 2 Night Stands (for Kids)

Thank you so much for your help with this transition!

Seeking the New City

Abraham is an example of faith for Jesus-disciples because he and his family obeyed God and embarked on a journey of faith hoping against hope that God would lead them to a city that God himself was building. Osheta and I believe that city is the Church. And we’ve been honored and privileged to serve in Jesus’s Church for over a decade now as a couple, and for several years before that individually. We see in New City Church LA the promise of a vision fulfilled: a vision for community that puts on display the power of the Gospel to tear down walls of division and manifest the many-colored beauty of God through love and service to one another. We see in New City Church an opportunity for our family to play a part in manifesting the Kingdom of God in LA as it is in heaven.

Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement as we’ve moved forward on this journey. We believe we’ve only just begun, and that Jesus is the Destination and the Way!