Update from the Hutchisons!
It’s hard to believe we’ve reached our 3 month anniversary as Denverites, surrounded by nearly 700,000 of our closest friends. We earned our title as locals when we skidded our way to church in our first blizzard. Since our first month was one long pep talk about not running away to the mountains to live life in solitude and peace, we craved the fellowship of our church community that snowy day and have continued to be encouraged deeply by The Summit.
The Summit is our “host” church, a church that began in the Rino Art District of Denver eight years ago with the support of the North American Mission Board. Our pastor of The Oaks Community Church, Derick Sherfey, is completing a residency program over the course of the next 10 months with The Summit where he is able to be immersed in training, mentoring, and strategic planning. Ben is also benefitting from training in a leadership class offered through The Summit, and we have both jumped in to serve with the children’s ministry. Our hope is that by early next Spring, The Oaks Community Church will be commissioned out from The Summit under the umbrella of the Mile High Community of Churches. This is a small but growing network of churches that share common practices and vision. They are partnering together out of a desire to see greater and tighter unity amongst churches in Denver for the sake of making the greatest difference for the Kingdom in the city. Once a year the churches come together for one large worship gathering, and the link for this years gathering follows (in case that helps clarify the direction we’re headed). http://www.summitdenver.org/standalone-2018
The Oaks’ team currently is comprised of four families here in Denver and three more moving out this summer. We have begun meeting on Thursday nights, getting to know each other, growing in our understanding of the city, praying, casting vision, and studying scripture. So far, everyone on the team was nearly strangers with each other, and the Lord, in his sovereignty, intersected our paths and orchestrated everyone’s move across the country to love this city and the church. Through much prayer, strategic planning with other church leaders, and guidance from denominational leaders in Denver, we have felt the Lord repeatedly lead our church to a corridor in Southeast Denver, an area of over 150,000 people.
Just last week (by the Lord’s provision, I’m convinced), Ben and I were able to sign a lease for a townhome in the neighborhood called Washington Virginia Vale. We have been repeatedly discouraged by the cost of living here, and this place was a “steal” by Denver standards. We are eager to plant roots and build community in a neighborhood we feel we could stay in for quite a while. We are blocks away from the largest immigrant and refugee communities in Denver, people groups the Oaks Church has felt compelled to serve since it’s dreaming phase back in early 2017. Derick has been asked to sit on the board for a non-profit that engages the refugee community here, and we are continuing to pray for ways to love, meet needs, and show hospitality to the foreigners among us. You can also pray that we would find favor with our neighbors, be attentive to the needs of those in our community, and be bold with the love and grace of the Gospel.
Here’s our church website in case you want more info on mission and timing. https://www.theoakschurch.net/our-mission-vision/
A few Denver stats...
City population= 682,545
One of the fastest growing cities in US
o 1,600 people moving here every month
o Urban core is growing faster than the suburbs
63.3% unaffiliated with ANY religious body
12.2% affiliated with an evangelical church
In the City= 1 SBC Church for every 52,500 residents
Barna Study of “The Most Post-Christian Cities in America”, Denver Ranked #14th post-Christian city
In other news, Ben has enjoyed teaching Hebrew II at Colorado Christian University and has been asked to teach New Testament & Hebrew III in the Fall. There is also a chance he’ll be able to teach Greek. He’ll be teaching Hebrew at Golden Gate Seminary’s extension campus in Denver this fall as well. On a different note, about two years ago, Ben felt the Lord leading him to engage with the military and began his research of chaplaincy - a job made easier by all the chaplains the Lord intersected his path with over the last two years. He has taken the leap here and begun the process with the Air Force Reserves. There is no guarantee he will be commissioned, and at this point he is waiting on final endorsement from the North American Mission Board, medical clearance, and approval by the Air Force. Meanwhile, we are still praying through job opportunities for me and how that may look for our family.
Your prayers and encouragement have been uplifting as we continue to find our balance here. Lent has been a timely journey for us this year as we have been ever reminded of our need and dependence upon the Lord. May your Holy Week be blessed as you rest in the work and power of Jesus!
Ben & Kate