Emerging Leaders Forum

June 13, 2016


On June 2, 2016, New York City (NYC) Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted the city’s first ever Emerging Leaders Evening in partnership with his Clergy Advisory Council, The New York City Leadership Center, Thrive Collective, NY CityServe, Mattera Management, Young Life NYC, and God Belongs In My City. Hosted at the Mayor’s personal residence, Gracie Mansion, a diverse group of interfaith and intergenerational leaders gathered to celebrate the raising up of a new era of strong, community-focused, emerging leaders. Guest speakers included Rev. Michael Walrond, Rev. Adam Durso, Dr. A.R. Bernard, Rabbi Potasnik, and Imam Talib.

Mayor de Blasio delivered a meaningful address reflecting on some of the valuable community initiatives and partnerships, which he and his administration have spearheaded. His focus on collaboration and the “irreplaceable role of community of faith leaders” was an invaluable contribution to an evening of connection and conversation.

Dialogue centered around the importance of collaboration in city leadership, various approaches to running vibrant houses of worship within the city, and the role of the millennial generation in challenging institutional approaches to leadership. Dr. A.R. Bernard, senior pastor of Christian Cultural Center, celebrated the emergence of more female leaders in leadership roles than ever before. So too was an emphasis placed upon the importance of undertaking a people-focused approach to leadership. Said Rev. Michael A. Walrond Jr., senior pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church, “Building legacy is more than just building your name, but investing in people.” There was a call to remain engaged in urban and social justice issues facing communities across the city.

A portion of the evening was devoted to an interfaith panel which explored various approaches being utilized to engage younger leaders in houses of worship across N.Y.C. Panelists shared their experiences of being invited to serve on their house of worship’s board of trustees, building coalitions, participating in leadership training, and receiving mentorship as they seek to become more involved in the development and growth of their house of worship.

Millennial leader and evening attendee Alana Barrett-Adkins noted, “There is an African proverb which says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ This evening I was reminded of this timeless truth which emphasizes the impact of collective agreement. Despite our differences in spiritual tenets, understandings, and observances, we can unite around common causes for the benefit of our community.”

Reflected Rev. Adam Durso, who spearheaded the vision of the evening, “Tonight, is the beginning of a conversation not the end of an event…We are going to continue this conversation around what does it look like when the most missionally-conscious generation steps up, outside of the four walls of our church buildings, outside of our own practices of faith, and does something that engages the community?”

We are extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to be part of an evening of such valuable dialogue and connection. Would you continue to partner with us in prayer as we uphold the leaders within our community?

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New York City Loves Millennials

April 28, 2016

Over the past few months we’ve chronicled local leaders and why they love New York City (NYC). There is a collective passion shared by these leaders to serve the needs of youth, families and the Church. This is coupled with a commitment to build up the infrastructure of the city as a place where the next generation can thrive and contribute.

We continued our conversations next with Rev. Adam Durso, CEO of Faith Breathes LLC — an initiative partnering with churches worldwide to train, strengthen, and empower youth pastors. Adam has joined with us at The New York City Leadership Center to invest in millennial leaders who feel a sense of calling to serve the city. Adam shares with us below how we all can help New York City and love today’s fastest growing generation.

1) What is the need you are addressing?

Low graduation rates are a problem in urban areas across the United States. I believe this needs to be a focus of the Church at large.

2) How do you make a unique difference (despite such a large issue, and such a large city)?

As a member of the NYC Mayor’s Clergy Advisory Council, we are dealing with this particular issue as an area of concern and partnership for both the local government and the church. Mayor Bill de Blasio has been a clear partner and advocate for education and fixing this problem here in NYC.

3) Why do you do what you do? What motivates you?

I am excited to look at the next generation and not cast dispersions, but believe for God’s best in them. We can choose to be prophets of the obvious and just say what we see, or we can declare God’s promises over their lives and then act upon them. I believe NYC can be the model for solving this problem in urban areas across the United States.

4) What are you trying to achieve?

I believe we need to work on significantly lowering High School dropout rates. This can be achieved through mentorship. We need to walk alongside our kids! Ensure our students have the support of tutors to help, in many cases provided by churches, so that they do not only move from grade to grade but are proficient in learning the core competencies and expectations of that grade level. Lastly, we need to equip our teachers and invest in our schools so that learning is well-rounded and inspires thinking and creativity!

5) How can others help? (Pray, volunteer, spread the word)

Please continue to pray for Luke 2:52 to manifest in our children: Jesus grew in wisdom (mentally) and stature (physically), and in favor with God (spiritually) and men (socially). This should be the model for the church and what we want to see in this next generation.

Will you join Adam this October at Movement Day Global Cities to be a part of investing in the next generation? If so, we invite you to sponsor a leader. 

Sponsor a Leader Today!

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Faith Bible Church Loves New York!

February 17, 2016

We hope you’ve been encouraged by our features this week on leaders who love New York City. Valentine’s Day may have passed, but the love this next leader has for NYC has not waned.

We interviewed Greg Woo, pastor of Faith Bible Church @ Hope Center’s English Ministry. Faith Bible Church is a non-denominational church founded in November 1995 by Rev. John Hao when God showed him the great demand for faithful and truth-pursuing pastors to build more profound and lively churches rooted in the Bible.

1) What is the need you are addressing?

Faith Bible Church is located in the heart of Chinatown in Flushing, NY. We aspire to be a bridge between two cultures and generations, equipping people to become active, successful community members and to become ambassadors for Christ.

2) How do you make a unique difference?

Our ministry focuses a lot on children. We engage them through our after school programs, summer day camp, art and music school, dance school, and Chinese language school. We are also planning to open a nursery in the near future.

3) Why do you do what you do?

We help integrate immigrant children into the community by equipping them with a strong educational and social background. On the flip side, we help parents recognize and understand how to communicate and understand the nuances of their Americanized children growing up in an ever-changing, culturally diverse community. We’re here to set families up for success. If the church wants to be relevant, its people need to be relevant.

4) What are you trying to achieve?

The Chinese are known to engage in hard work, and work long hours at the peril of their families. We want to preserve families and help them as they raise up bi-cultural children. Recognizing that we are not an acceptable substitute for these immigrant parents, we just want to help ease the transition for these children to be fully integrated into their schools and community. While we lack resources and abilities now, our hope is to build Christian schools that encourage the growth of young Jesus followers.

5) How can others help?

Continue to pray with us as we church plant and build locations all across NYC. Pray for workers and opportunities to expand and grow a ministry that turns families over to Jesus.

For more details on Faith Bible Church @ Hope Center, visit their website.

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Young Life Loves New York

February 15, 2016

The greatest example of love as evidenced through the life of Jesus Christ is expending yourself in sacrifice and service for the sake of others. In part 2 of our series, we want to share the story of another leader whose love for New York City is bringing hope to a generation of youth.

We spoke to Carolyn Harris at Young Life Greater Bronx, a non-profit organization whose vision is that every adolescent will have the opportunity to meet Jesus Christ and follow Him.  Read our questions and her answers below:

1) What is the need you are addressing?

The mission of Young Life is to introduce disinterested adolescents to the gospel and to help them grow in their faith. Many of our adolescent friends are affected by family brokenness where one or both parents are not in the home, and live in some of the lowest economic quadrants in the city. One of our Young Life Greater Bronx locations (Fordham/Kingsbridge area) has long been one of the highest poverty sections in New York. This district has the most schools of any NYC school district. Yet, the schools in this district are extremely divided between the “Up the Hill” Riverdale public schools and the “Down the Hill” low performing community schools.  Children of savvy “in the know” parents often benefit more from the NYC School Choice process because of their parents’ active involvement. Students whose parents work nights or multiple jobs are disadvantaged when their parents can’t attend school open house tours and fairs where academic opportunities are shared and discussed.,

Young Life focuses on helping adolescents have access to opportunities that will lead towards them having full and satisfying lives in every area of life: social, emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual.

2) How are you making a unique difference?

Our most distinguishing feature is our ability to reach “the furthest out kid” with the irresistible gospel message of God’s love and acceptance of them.  We love without judgment, meet teens where they are, and keep showing up until we earn the right to be part of their lives in order to share friendship, information, and Jesus.

Young Life is also unique in the spans of age groups served:

  • Young Life – High School
  • Wyldlife –Middle School
  • Young LifeCollege -College students
  • Young Lives – Teen Moms
  • Capernaum – Adolescents with special needs

Young Life owns 22 resort-style camps where kids get the opportunity to spend a week every summer (and a weekend every winter) experiencing the love of God for themselves. Many organizations offer summer camps for teens, but what sets Young Life camping apart is our built-in follow up strategy.  When kids get back on the bus at the end of camp they return home with the leader that invited them. Leader’s follow-up with teens the very next week helping them to reflect on their camp experience and to make applications of what they learned, in real life, back in their homes/schools/communities.

3) What motivates you?

Each staff and volunteer serves for different reasons, but the primary motivating factor is a love and passion to see kids with no hope find true and eternal hope.  Each staff person and volunteer is motivated by love to provide friendship, life and leadership skills needed by adolescents to navigate current life challenges so they can experience a promising future. We want them to know God loves them and has good plans for their lives.

4) What’s the end goal?

We want teens to experience flourishing lives at home, school, and in community. This means providing emotional, spiritual, and leadership development that is transformational. We desire for teens to become community change agents as a result of having had their lives transformed by the love of God.

In the next 3 years we plan to increase our weekly outreach from 50-250 teens. We currently serve 50 teens in a weekly Club in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx. We plan to expand Club locations to Grand Concourse, Co-op City, Parkchester, and Hunts Points in the next 3 years.

5) How can others help?

We need your prayers in the following areas:

  • We need 20 (10 men/10 women) new volunteer leaders who are faithful, available, and teachable; willing to be placed in Bronx neighborhoods where we currently serve — Grand Concourse, Highbridge, Co-op City, Hunts Point and Kingsbridge.
  • We need two bilingual volunteers to lead a Campaigner (bible study) at a residence for undocumented adolescents.
  • We also need to increase our board membership (community leaders, pastors, business owners, parents, retirees, school administrators, etc.), by 6-12 members by June 2016.
  • We need assistance expanding the Young Life brand all over NYC. Our NYC regional goal is to have a presence (Club, Campaigner, and Committee/Board members) in each of the 59 Community Districts. Our Bronx Metro goal would mean having a presence in each of the 12 Bronx Community Districts. To date we have a presence in 19 of the 59 in NYC and 3 of the 12 in the Bronx. Word of mouth helps and we have plenty of videos and print resources to share on social media.

Are you the answer to these prayers? E-mail Carolyn.

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Covenant House Loves New York

February 11, 2016

During this Lenten season of reflection and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought it was good timing to profile some of the many great organizations whose actions personify God’s love to New York City.

We spoke to Cathy Englade at Covenant House, a non-profit that opens doors for homeless youth. Read our questions and her answers below:
What is the need you are addressing?
Covenant House shelters homeless and trafficked youth. They come to us trying to escape childhood homes filled with violence, drugs, physical and sexual abuse and neglect. Often these violent and abusive acts create such terrifying environments that the kids flee their families and, ironically, seek safety on the streets of New York. Once on the streets, they are subjected to equal if not worse horrors before they find Covenant House.
How do you make a unique difference (despite such a large issue, and such a large

We are far more than just a shelter. Our goal for every young person who enters our doors is to empower and encourage them on a path towards healing and breaking the cycle of homelessness. From the moment a young person arrives, they are promised Absolute Respect and Unconditional Love. Having never received either from a parent, respect and love become the sacred cornerstones for their healing. As they heal, we offer a plethora of educational, vocational and therapeutic programs, and every youth is set on a track towards completing their education and achieving economic independence.
Why do you do what you do? What motivates you?
Our kids are some of the brightest, funniest, most creative and clever people I’ve had the privilege to know. However, the tremendous weight of their circumstances, the crippling effects of trauma rob them of their voices and identity. I do what I do because I want these kids to know that this time is but a moment in their lives and that they are so much more than homeless/abused/abandoned/neglected.
What’s the end goal? What are you trying to achieve (specific goals/deadlines, etc.)?
The kids have been asking for classes in music, visual art, dance, acting, writing, etc. They find so much healing and freedom in their creativity. So, I’ve signed on as the Artistic Director and we are at the very beginning of a 5-year plan to design and implement a robust and comprehensive arts program.  By the end of 2016, we will have laid the foundation for a program that will open the doors for the NYC arts community to come engage and empower our kids.
How can others help?
Sometimes at work, when I see the darkness and pain that surrounds these kids, I am reminded of Ezekiel and the Valley of the Dry Bones. And I wonder, can these kids come back to life?  Is there a certain point of brokenness where they can no longer be reached? Is it foolish to keep hoping? It is then that I pray as the song says, “Lord, I want to see dry bones living again.” I hope you will pray the same with me.

For more details on the work of Covenant House, visit their website.

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How It All Started

February 9, 2016

In the last 25 years, Christianity has grown 500% in Manhattan. Why?

Part of this success can be credited to the countless Christian leaders who united in prayer and initiatives across New York City. Another part can be attributed to Dr. John Stott and Dr. Billy Graham who, in 1974, founded The Lausanne Movement to connect influencers and ideas for global mission.

Ultimately, NYC has experienced a gospel movement through the efforts of many and through years of faithful prayer. Christian leaders from a myriad of churches and organizations collaborated across racial and denominational lines. They pooled resources and coordinated city-wide initiatives to address common urban issues.

In 1998, Dr. Mac Pier and Concerts of Prayer Greater New York, began to foster a spiritual renewal throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Since then, this united prayer movement has become one of the most developed urban prayer and pastoral networks in the world.

Less than 10 years later, Dr. Pier founded The New York City Leadership Center (NYCLC) in 2007 to fill the current gap in non-profit leadership training and to help meet the social and spiritual needs of NYC.

National ministries such as Cru, Willow Creek Association, World Vision, Luis Palau Association and many others sought to pool resources in NYC, and coordinate initiatives to address the city’s urban issues. This unity launched a regional collaboration to sustain effective church planting. Christian business and nonprofit leaders, too, are able to engage in coaching and training opportunities through the Leadership Fellows Program, Next Level Coaching, Marketplace Initiatives and 10 regional sites of the Global Leadership Summit.

Then things came full circle in 2010: the NYCLC successfully launched Movement Day, a one-day conference that gathered influential Christian leaders from around the nation to educate, inspire, and celebrate gospel movements.

The conference was a resounding success, and since its inception the NYCLC has hosted more than 8,000 leaders. Movement Day has also been successfully replicated in Dallas, TX and Pretoria, South Africa, with gospel movements emerging in more than a dozen cities across the globe. A third adaption will premiere in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti in just a few months.

5 million people are moving into cities every month. Chances are, you are working in one of those growing urban centers, right now. Fatherlessness, poverty, low graduation rates and low employment are universal issues in all the major cities of the world. Now, it is more important than ever for leaders and churches to work together. We all have the same goal—why not accomplish it together?

This October, Movement Day is expanding to a 3-day event. Working with Lausanne’s global networks (of which Dr. Pier is a volunteer leader), Movement Day Global Cities will have a global focus. You’re invited to join us! Together, we can address our common urban issues, maximize our gospel impact, and empower today’s & tomorrow’s leaders.


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