Ryan, welcome to Philly and welcome to Liberti! What's your first week in the city been like?
My first week in the city has been a bit like drinking from a fire hydrant, but I feel incredibly welcome here. I was not sure what to expect upon my arrival to Philly, but have been pleasantly surprised by the city's personality and the culture here. This week alone, I have had the opportunity to make popcorn for a movie night at Hawthorne, clean up spilled cucumbers at Emmanuel, celebrate Memorial Day on a rooftop and play pickup hoops at Marian Anderson Park.
Tell us a bit about your own spiritual journey...
I did not grow up in the church. Christ entered my life between my sophomore and junior years of college at the University of Michigan. I became involved with Young Life College while in Ann Arbor, and felt the call to ministry soon after. My plan was to plant a church directly after college, but wiser, cooler heads prevailed and I was advised to go to seminary. So, I began seminary, in conjunction with "planting" a new area for Young Life in metro Detroit, and loved what was entailed in starting a new ministry from scratch. Currently, I’m at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI, to pursue seminary education full-time. There, I was connected with some incredible people like Chuck DeGroat and Jon Brown, and began an internship at Pillar Church, which is a church in downtown Holland that strives to engage with and be for its community, in a similar manner as Liberti. I’m grateful that God has opened such doors, and I am inspired by the Gospel-centered passion that Liberti has for serving its community through the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
What are you looking forward to about your time with Liberti?
I am looking forward to being a sponge while I am here, striving to absorb the culture of Philly, the nature of Liberti, and the Holy Spirit at work. I hope to serve Liberti in any and every opportunity that I am afforded, and I am thrilled at the prospect of aiding in preaching and proclaiming the Gospel. I love engaging with the energy and people that so prominently exist in this city.
Tell us a bit about what you're studying right now, and how being at Liberti fits in with that...
Right now, at Western Theological Seminary, I have survived Greek and am learning to hone my preaching skills, while also learning about what it looks like to lead generously, both financially and spiritually. God has given me great desire to plant a church in a center city context, in a way similar to the Gospel-centered ministry of Liberti. Engaging with and caring for the city, as prompted by God, through the act of church-planting is my aspiration, and there is no greater place to learn how this is done than at Liberti.
You've got big things coming up after your time here, too. What's next for you?
When I depart from the City of Brotherly Love, I do so to scramble back to Michigan to get married to the beautiful love-of-my-life, Claire. July 7 is the big day, and we have been engaged for almost 18 months (way too long). No better way to distract from the pre-ceremony butterflies than to move to a new city for a month and hang out with the Liberti team!
We're grateful to have you with us! Liberti, welcome Ryan!