April 1st marks the ninth anniversary of New City Neighbors. Nine years represents a quarter of my life, and nearly all of my hair loss. I didn’t know what I was doing when we launched New City Neighbors, and in many ways, I feel like I’m still finding my way. Every year brings a new challenge.
When it wasn’t finances, it was starting a farm, expanding programs, learning how to work with multiple staff, developing our donor base, planning major fundraisers, and handing off half my job to a new program director. While I’ve learned a lot, and regularly rejoiced in the growth of our ministries, and their impact on children, I know that NCN thrives because of God’s provision.
As I reflect on those nine years there is so much to be grateful for. I love the way our board has grown over the last nine years. I love our staff, and the gifts/talents they have for ministry. I love our volunteers and their commitment to caring for children. I love that our donor base understands our ministries and generously provides for the work we do. Most of all, I love the children who I’ve had the pleasure of caring for all these years.
I’ve worked with hundreds of different children over the years, and I’ve been blessed to see many of them grow up to be incredible adults. I think about the laughs, the adventures, the serious chats, the camping trips, the fear of water slides (not me), the inside jokes, and the willingness to explore scripture and follow Jesus. I will never forget the fruit of the spirit weekend in the Upper Peninsula when a student got confused between self-confidence and self-control. I’ll never forget the bike crashes on Mackinac Island. I’ll certainly never forget all the times lightbulbs went on for students.
While literally half of my life has been about youth ministry, it is time for me to move on. By now many of you have heard, either through letters, emails, or the grapevine, that I’ve accepted the call to become the Pastor of Fourth Reformed Church. I will formally take up that role on May 1.
I love New City Neighbors, but God has called me to a new adventure. These are exciting times for NCN, and I know God will continue to provide. In Alaina, Lance & Joel we have an amazing staff who have been, and will continue to lead the ministry forward. We’re impacting children in new ways, and we’re seeing growth. I firmly believe, that after nine years of ministry, New City Neighbors is just getting started.
The board is actively working to find a new Executive Director, and in the mean time, the staff will help take care of the daily administrative tasks. It can be tempting, in a leadership change, for volunteers and donors to take a step back from an organization. But my challenge to everyone is to keep investing in the ministries of New City Neighbors. Those ministries were never about me, they were always about the children who come through our doors.
After reading this, you may have questions or things you’d like to say. Please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, I’d like to say thank you to each of you for all of your support over the years. This has been an amazing journey, and I can’t wait to see what God does in the years to come.
Pastor Eric Schalk