John Wagner & Abigail Hartley to Lead House Church+ and COVID-19 Response Efforts
Since I first came to All Angels, one of my top priorities has been the renewal and revitalization of House Churches. As I was strategizing ways to do this, I was given a great gift. Last December, John Wagner and Abigail Hartley approached me with a simple proposition: they wanted to serve. As they headed into married life together, it was their hope to find a ministry they could be involved in as a couple. The more we talked, the more it became obvious that God was calling them to lead our new House Church effort.
Fast forward a couple of months. Abigail returned home to New York at the end of February. On March 3rd, I met with John and Abigail in my office to start laying out our specific plans for moving forward. Those of you who have followed the timeline closely will remember that it was the very next day that New Rochelle was quarantined following the first reported cases of COVID-19 in our area. Things moved quickly from there.
As the situation evolved, it became clear that the pastoral needs of our congregation were going to be more than we could manage on a staff level. The question then became: How can we make sure we are keeping people connected and offering the care they need in the midst of this pandemic? The answer seemed obvious once again: House Churches. Though House Churches won’t be able to do everything, they provide an already established network for many in our congregation. So, we began to mobilize our House Church leaders (and raise up a few new leaders) to be the first line of defense in our organized effort.
I went back to John a couple weeks ago and acknowledged that this was not what he and Abigail had originally signed up for. I said they should feel total freedom and permission not to take on more than they could handle in the midst of a severe crisis, and that they should no feel pressure to engage more than is sustainable. John’s response was the same as it was in the beginning: “Happy to serve, Nate.”
More information on John and Abigail can be found below. John and Abigail are not alone in this effort. They are joined by a remarkable team that has already shown inspired creativity and leadership for a rapidly changing situation. More information about that team and their current needs can be found below, as well.
God has been faithful to All Angels Church in providing these leaders. Please join me in thanking God for them, and praying for them as they respond to this growing needs related to this pandemic.
Abigail has worked for the peacekeeping division of the U.N. for the last twelve years. During that time she has spent time in Afghanistan, New York and most recently in Mogadishu, Somalia. Now back in New York, she leads a team working on landmine issues. She is originally from Yorkshire in the north of England, where her mother, two brothers, most of her six godchildren, and their families still live.
John has been with Young Life for 38 years and is currently serving as the Senior Vice President of the Global City Initiative. He is from the D.C. area and has three children: Michael (28), Jessi (26) and David (21).
John and Abigail met on the All Angels Church retreat in 2018, and dated long distance for the better part of a year while she was in Mogadishu. They were married in Skipton, England on November 23, 2019. They now live together on the Upper West Side, have a tandem bike they love to ride on the bike path along the river, and regularly take long walks (and not as long runs) in Central Park.
Information about our COVID-19 Task Force
1. Our COVID-19 task force is a group of parishioners and staff members who are organizing and mobilizing a broad base of support. Our CENTRAL team is John Wagner, Sarah Baggs Eastwood, and Ariana Miller. The other teams include:
- DATA team to collect information on the needs (Jeannette Larson, Sarah, Ann)
- COMMUNICATIONS team to monitor email and organize response (Ann Kosmerl, Sarah, John),
- PRAYER team (Carolyn Carney, Abigail, Ariana),
- COVID19 EDUCATION team to help us learn best practices for health and safety (James Baggs Eastwood, Ann, John)
- CREATIVE SUPPORT team to think of innovative ways to minister (Mary Ellen Lehmann, James, John)
- HOUSE CHURCH SUPPORT team (Abigail Hartley, John, Ariana).
2. If you would like to contribute in any way, please email email@example.com. All of us have different needs and capacities, and it will take all of us connecting with each other and ministering to each other to get through this.
3. If you become sick or have any needs or prayer requests that arise, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will pray for you, and it helps us to know the areas of need within our congregation.
4. If you have not yet filled out the Google form, please do so. We would like your contact information, and it’s another way to share what you need and how you can offer support.
Special Holy Week Event
WAIT WITH ME
Meeting God in Loneliness
With Jason Gaboury
**Please e-mail email@example.com to register in advance**
In a time of social distancing, many of us have been forced into isolation. And, while we know this is the best thing for the health and safety of ourselves and others, it can be hard. Sometimes, really hard.
Knowing that many of us are facing this hardship, we wanted to offer some help. On the Tuesday of Holy Week, parishioner Jason Gaboury will offer a Zoom devotional based on a chapter from his upcoming book, Wait with Me: Meeting God in Loneliness. He’ll connect this chapter to what Jesus experienced during the week of his passion, and then also lead us into “five spiritual practices” for moments of isolation and loneliness.
Details for the Zoom meeting can be found below. Look forward to seeing many of you then.
Tuesday, April 7th @ 7PM
The “three days” leading up to Easter Sunday are often called the Triduum. Through the services that take place during these days, we walk with Jesus from his “Last Supper,” down the “road of sorrows,” to the cross, and then into the tomb. I invite you to participate in these services in preparation for Easter. All of them will be streamed on Facebook LIVE and posted to our website via YouTube.
Thursday, April 9th @ 7PM
Preacher: Jordan Wesley
Maundy Thursday is one on the most symbolically rich services of the year, as we relive Jesus’ last supper and betrayal. On Maundy Thursday, we reflect specifically on Jesus’ new “maundatum” (I.e. command), that we should “love one another.”
Friday, April 10th @ 7PM
Preacher: Nate Lee
On Good Friday, we are at the foot of the cross. The liturgy of the day includes John’s account of the Passion gospel, a solemn form of intercession known as the solemn collects, and optional devotions before the cross. The eucharist is not celebrated, as it’s day for fasting and special acts of discipline and self-denial.
Saturday, April 11th @ 10AM
Holy Saturday is a short, contemplative prayer service, lasting no more than thirty minutes. In the service, we reflect on this tragic moment where Christ lies dead in the tomb.