A Huge Note of Appreciation
Thank you, to each of you and those who no longer get these RConnection Updates because of moves or changes in email address, and to those who have passed on into the “Cloud of Witnesses”.
Ten years ago we were deep in what became our first major Rochester Connection (RC) ministry, the restoration and expansion of the meeting house for the Heart and Soul Community congregation. A short pictorial history of what turned out to be a two-year, bottom-to-top reconstruction of a nearly 90-year-old structure is on still on the RC website.
In the Beginning
The dream of a Rochester “Connection” ministry, involving congregations coming together to share resources to make a Kingdom difference in the city, started at least two years before the launch in June of 2008.
Initially there were conversations involving (I apologize to persons my memory left out below) Linda, Alma, Brent, Gloria, Brenda, Scott and myself about needs in the city and opportunities Free Methodists had to get involved with God to bring healing and transformation to individuals and neighborhoods.
One of those early conversations focused on an apartment building approved for ex-offenders on Alexander Street (sort of a halfway house) which was surrounded by prostitutes and drugs pushers and therefore offering little hope that a recent parolee assigned there had any chance of getting a clean, positive start on a new life.
There were conversations about the need for decent housing for the many African immigrants worshiping at New Hope and Heart and Soul and finding creative ways of ministering to the hundreds of up-and-coming young adults who gathered each weekend to party not far from New Hope FMC.
There were also many individual out-of-box conversations between Daryl and me about ministries happening in Orlando similar to what we were talking and praying about for Rochester.
Soon the conversations expanded to table conversations and notes on napkins with non-Free Methodist (FM) leaders that I had come to know and love in my work at NES: Fred, Marlowe, Greg, Richard, Luiz, Reggie, Kenny, Barbara and others who pastored congregations within the City itself.
Many of those early passions never saw the light of day but many others did.
An Amazing and Blessed Journey
It has been an amazing journey of opportunities anticipated and planned for, and others that dropped in our laps along the way. It has been a journey of witnessing God provide resources—people and finances—time and again when all we could do was make a need known, pray, and wait.
For a few more weeks the details of this now 10-year journey will still be available in various places on RC Website—the building programs at H&S, Rochester Family Missions, and at least two neighborhood homes, Tutoring teams, Financial Planning Workshops, Leadership, Teaching, and Consulting workshops around the State, Clothes for Kids for four different City ministries, emergency fund drives for families in crisis, Language Workshops, Resume writing and assistance with job applications, Biblical Teaching at the Sound of the Genuine Institute in Buffalo and elsewhere, support for Refugee Camps ministries in Sudan and Ethiopia, Blogs regarding matters of being followers of Jesus where we live, work, worship and play; and acting as advocates and facilitators for connecting individuals with the services they need for applying for Medicaid, citizenship, child care, and employment.
While fruitful and needed ministries have been ongoing over the last two years, others have run their course; still others are being done by individual congregations. As we approached year number ten, the leadership team and I have been prayerfully wrestling with a raison d’être for the RC. My own significant and surprising health issues, including two major surgeries, have also played a role in continuing this examination of the RC’s future.
I want to single out for special recognition and appreciationFred, Brenda, Gloria, and Daryl who provided leadership during our early years and to Tracy, Mike, Liasor, Christine, Julie, Bulat, Louis E., and Peter who joined the Board of Directors over these last 4-6 years.
During our first two years, 18 different worshipping communities from near and as far as Seattle, WA, and over 150 individual volunteers donated hundreds of hours of service, and over $140,000 in building funds and continuing ministry funds for the initial Heart and Soul project. Since then, over $50,000 has been donated for the other ministry projects noted above. Thank you again and again.
A final special THANK YOU goes to the Community of the Savior Congregation in Rochester, NY for their continued annual financial support of the RC’s Education Projects (Tutoring, Faith and Finances Workshops, and English Language Communication Workshops).
The RC Website is officially closed to updates and I have initiated a conversation with the FM Genesis Conference Leadership (our umbrella institution for the 501c3 non-profit status) about what they wish to do with this legal, Free Methodist social services institution called the Rochester Connection.
Carol and I, Lord enabling, will continue to seek God’s direction in ministries related to teaching, preaching, and financial and language workshops, but on a more individual basis apart from the organizational structures and fund raising of the RC. We are currently involved in organizing repairs and remodeling of a home near H&S Worship Center.
Thank you again for joining us in this journey.
Your physical, financial, and prayer support have enabled the “Connection” to impact our communities for the Kingdom in so many small ways.
Brian & Carol
Rev. Dr. Brian D. Babcock, Founder and Executive Director
The Rochester Connection
“Jesus said, ‘The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost’ [Luke 19:10]. This means that Jesus is already in the world, inviting the church people out to play! We run into Jesus … wherever people need him … (In Missional Communities, Reggie McNeal, p11)