Thursday, July 29, 2010

we are not here alone

Last night Ben randomly decided that he would google our names to see what popped up. Well maybe it wasn't so random. Ben was curious to see how much of our personal information was floating out there for the world to see. In the results, was an article from the Alabama Baptist written in April. The story was written about an offering that was given at The Well to support our family as we made the move to San Francisco. I want to share that article with you as well as some thoughts I have about the gratitude that fills our hearts.


Calvary college students give big to help missionary

April 1, 2010

When Moses asked the Israelites to give and give and give to build God’s tabernacle (Ex. 35–36), they gave until he told them, “Stop; you’ve given too much,” explained Chris Brooks, college minister at Calvary Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa, in Tuscaloosa Baptist Association.

So he passed the challenge to give along to his students, asking them to raise $9,000 to help support College Ministry Associate Lindsey Lee, who is moving with her husband, Ben, to serve a San Francisco church plant, Epic Church.

Brooks said at the same time he was praying for his students to literally step up to the plate, he was making “just-in-case” plans to pull $4,500 from the college ministry’s missions budget to make up for what they lacked.

“But I still laid the smack down and asked them to give,” Brooks said.

He told the students if they didn’t know where to start, then they should go to their closet and look at the most expensive shoes they own — “That’s how much you should give.”

When it came time to collect Feb. 3, the students didn’t give $9,000.

They gave $16,297.

They gave some Chick-fil-A coupons, American Eagle Outfitters gift cards and even some euros.

Some students pledged their entire summer’s paycheck.

“So when we added the $4,500 we were already planning to give just to meet our goal, we wrote a check to Lindsey Lee for $20,797,” Brooks said, “I was able to stand up in front of 600 to 700 college students and say, ‘You gave too much. It’s too much.’”

He remembers when he went into college ministry, people told him, “College students don’t pay and don’t stay.”

“It’s great to know just the opposite is true. They will give and they will go,” Brooks said, noting two of his students who recently graduated have already moved to San Francisco to help with Epic.

He plans for the college ministry to continue to partner with the church plant.

Tim Lovett is senior pastor of Calvary Baptist.

Ben and I are so thankful for the support we immediately received when we shared with Calvary about our plans to move to San Francisco to plant Epic Church. We were overwhelmed when Chris Brooks shared with us his plan for college students to give an offering at The Well. He said that he would challenge each one of them to at least give what they paid for the most expensive shoes in their closet. As you read, we witnessed college students giving out of their poverty to raise over $20,000 in one night!! We were humbled by their generosity and our hearts were so full of gratitude. We often found ourselves with no words to describe what this gift meant to us.

Now that we are living in San Francisco our hearts are continually flooded with gratitude because now we are experiencing the gift we were given. Day in and day out. Every time we write our rent check, load our laundry or transit card or buy groceries we are reminded that we are not here alone. All of these students and many of you who also support us share in this adventure with us. Thank you for your partnership. We sense your prayers, are strengthened by your encouragement and through your generosity our needs are being met.

Thank you for the part that you play in our lives, in Epic Church and in expanding God's kingdom!

With much love,

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Whirlwind Tour...

Ben and I have been looking forward to this weekend for quite some time. Our sweet friends Jordan and Carlin came for the weekend to visit us! We only had two full days to spend with them and to show them the city. We were able to see SO much in such a short time. I wanted to share some pictures from some of the more recognizable landmarks in San Francisco.

*We started in our neighborhood with none other than a tour around AT&T park. I even got to go down the huge slide that sits above left field.

*The Flagship GAP store happened to be on our way to the Wharf :) We were able to get a great view of Alcatraz and of course we stopped at Ghirardelli Square for chocolate!

*Next Stop Lombard St., the most crooked street in the city! And then there was the hill we climbed to get to it!

*We ended the first night in North Beach where we ate at a fun restaurant in Little Italy.

*Saturday morning started with the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building. The best part was getting to sample something at every booth.

*We drove through the Mission district, famous for amazing food and murals. We then drove to the Pacific Ocean and also hiked down to the Sutro Baths.

We got to really know and love these two when Jordan worked as intern for the college ministry in Tuscaloosa. They both finished undergrad this May at Alabama and Ben and I could not be more proud of who they are becoming!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An EPIC Update: Part 2

So here is my promised second half to yesterday's post :) I often wondered what it would be like to work without an office and before we started weekly services. We have been in the city and working for 6 weeks now. While I am only beginning to understand what it's like to work in a mobile office in an urban setting I can share with you my experience so far!

Most mornings our staff starts off working together at Panera Bread around 8:30. As I walk in I am greeted by name from Kristine, an employee. She is always energetic and smiling (she remembered our names after coming in just a few times). We catch up on life for a few minutes and then get to discussing different things that we are preparing for. By 9:30, I am looking around for Celso, the baker. He brings around samples of soufflés and cinnamon rolls. He is wonderful. On a tray, he has choices of 4 cheese, spinach or ham and cheese soufflés. He usually points out the ham and cheese on the tray because now he knows that is my favorite. We continue to work up until lunchtime.

Most days I walk home for lunch. It is about a twenty minute walk and on a good day my Ben breaks at the same time and we can eat together! We often spend the afternoons working on things in our area of responsibility. Half of the week I work from my apartment and half of the week we all work from Tim's apartment or the 19th floor of Ben Pilgreen's building.

Primarily, my area of responsibility includes overseeing our small groups system, connecting our church to the city, coordinating mission teams and children's ministry. Right now my focus is on coordinating mission teams from our partner churches and figuring what children's ministry might look like. The very first mission team that is serving with Epic will be here in less than two months and we are thrilled! I am currently working on setting up serving opportunities for each team. This allows me to research and meet with several different organizations in the city that are helping people in various ways and discovering how Epic Church might partner with them. I have limited background in children's ministry so I am learning a ton in this area, working on things like curriculum and what we will need to get started. I usually finish working around 5 and head home!

One of the best parts of most days is when I get to check the mail. I love coming home and going straight to the mail box. I walk down the hall with anticipation of something great (like a card or note and even a package) being in our tiny box! Here is our address for anyone who wants a pen-pal or just wants to say "hi" :)
The Lees
180 Brannan Street #414
San Francisco, CA 94107

Being mobile allows us to meet people and rapidly provides a change of scenery which is fun! I LOVE what I get to do everyday and am so thankful to be here in this great city starting a church!

- We had so much fun with the video blog that we are thinking of making another. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An EPIC update

How about an update on Epic Church?!?! So much is happening - here are some of the highlights.

  • The W Hotel - Along with our team, many of you and others around the country prayed for a long time that we would find the perfect meeting space for Sunday mornings. We believe that we have found that space at The W Hotel. This venue allows us a great worship space and also a separate room for our Children's ministry which is important to us. We found great favor with Mark, the sales manager, and are looking forward to our first service there on October 10, 2010. What an answer to prayer!!!

  • Sundays - We start monthly preview services in October and weekly services in February. Until then, our team is visiting different churches in the city and the Bay Area in the mornings. This is a great chance for us to worship with and learn from other churches. In the evenings we gather as a team at the Pilgreen house. Together we get to share a meal, sing, pray and are encouraged. Ben Pilgreen also uses this time to share the vision of Epic Church.

  • Decisions and Process - We are the busiest we have been since moving here but are making great progress and having fun along the way. With our first preview service less than 3 months away we are in the process of a ton of things. We are developing marketing strategies, buying equipment, thinking through our preview services, meeting people, etc.

So a couple of people have asked this question - "If you don't have an office and there are no weekly services yet, what does a typical work day look like for you?" I ran out of time (it's 10:20pm right now and I'm old) so I am going to answer that question in a Part 2 post tomorrow. Get excited - it involves mission teams, service organizations, children's ministry and checking the mail!

Thank you for loving us through this journey -

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Adventures with Mary Kellye

I have spent the last five weeks living out of a suitcase, sleeping on someone else’s couch, working 40 hours a week for no pay, and spending 2 ½ hours a day on public transportation. And I have loved every minute of it! I met the Lees three years ago when they moved to Tuscaloosa to do college ministry. I had the privilege of working with Lindsey in the college office for the past two years. Needless to say, I was sad to hear they were moving to San Francisco but excited for their new adventure with Epic Church! Several months ago, Lindsey casually mentioned that if I wanted to come to San Francisco for my internship I would have a place to stay. If you have ever met Lindsey you know that she wouldn’t have made an offer like this it wasn’t genuine. So I accepted her offer, which I think surprised the Lees as much as it surprised myself.

Fast-forward to six weeks ago. The Lees arrived in San Francisco with their moving van on a Monday. I arrived Wednesday. Since the moment I got off the plane they have been helping me fall in love with this city. Some of my favorite experiences include:

  • Celebrating my birthday with the whole Epic gang (Ben Lee was kind enough to bake a cake)
  • Saturday mornings at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
  • Exploring neighborhoods in the city on Saturday afternoons with a rotating cast: our gracious friend Josh, varying members of the Epic team, and our friend Hannah, also from Tuscaloosa
  • Experiencing the beginning of Epic Church as we met for dinner on Sundays
  • Girl’s Night at the Orpheum Theatre to see Wicked
  • The Musee D’Orsay Imressionism exhibit at the De Young Museum
  • Celebrating my last night in the city with tapas in the Mission and gelato in Inner Sunset

Needless to say, this has been an incredible summer. I had a great learning experience working at the San Francisco VA for my nutrition internship. I also got to join some dear friends as they navigated their way through their first few weeks in San Francisco. I am so grateful for their generosity and unrelenting desire to share their home with me. I will return to Tuscaloosa with countless wonderful memories and a heart for San Francisco! God is truly at work in this city and I can’t wait to see how he chooses to use the Lees and Epic Church.

- Mary Kellye

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tour The Apartment With Ben

So here is the video blog of our apartment I promised! Turn the volume WAY up - I could not get to my camera in the closet so this was recorded on my iphone :) Not the best sound quality but you can see where we live and Ben is hilarious when you can hear him! Welcome to our home...

p.s.- The shaking in the beginning is not an earthquake....just me laughing for a few seconds :)