Kaynenn to East Fort Worth
By Kaynenn Parker
At the end of 2015 the Lord began to ruffle the feathers of my heart. A feeling I’d had several years earlier, but not one that was normative for me. I didn’t immediately know what it was, but I knew it was big. I was a little nervous, so I called my good friend Eric to see if he had any insight for me. Low and behold, God was ruffling his feathers, too. Together we prayed and dreamt about what God could be up to. I spoke with other pastors and mentors in my life, many of whom had similar experiences and were able to help me cut through the haze. I was being called, compelled to do something I never wanted to do. As I read, prayed and shared with others, the theme of church planting kept recurring. In fact, it was the only theme, every time. But not just church planting in a generic way, if there is such a thing. I was compelled to return to the urban environment in which I grew up. I wanted to re-engage the inner-city/metro communities in which I was born and bred.
As the call began to take shape, I shared with my wife and began to pray about moving back to Boston to pursue the work God had for us. Excited and reluctant at the same time, we began our initial steps in following God’s call. I spoke with my fellow elders at Webster Bible Church in New York and began to look for housing and job opportunities in the Boston area. Little did I know, this wasn’t God’s plan for me. For the first time in my life, I experienced God closing doors on me. Boston wasn’t meant to be. But where God? Where are you calling me to? It would soon become clear as day, and it would be huge!
The more I spoke with Eric, the more we prayed about planting a church together. We even began to pray about planting on the eastside of Fort Worth, as he has a brother in law who works at a local high school there. It was a very similar demographic to where I felt compelled to serve. But Texas? Fort Worth at that? Cowboys and lynchings was all that I could think about. (I know I was ignorant; I’m just being honest.) Every time I saw Fort Worth on TV it was bull riding shows and boots with spurs, lol. But Eric reassured me I was bug’n. I would soon get to see for myself. I saw an ad for a pastors’ conference being held in downtown Fort Worth. We eagerly signed up and were excited to learn. Little did we know that this was the conference where we would meet a congregation and a church staff who loves Jesus, loves people and had been praying for two years for God to send them church planters (especially black dudes) to join them in representing Jesus well with new, healthy church plants in Fort Worth.
At this conference Eric linked up with a local pastor who he formerly played pro-baseball with. It was Jim Essian and a bunch of the staff of the Paradox Church. They took us to lunch and began to tell us about what God had been laying on their hearts. To plant a church on the east side of Fort Worth. Coincidence? I think not. They even told us of a church planter residency program they were building that would help equip guys to plant churches well the first time. As they talked, I got butterflies in my stomach. I even considered the possibility that Eric set the whole thing up and made it seem like he didn’t know. But he was just as surprised as I was. That lunch at The Bird Cafe in 2016 changed everything.
By God’s grace it has been almost two full years of since Eric and I became partners at the Paradox church and began to serve alongside this gospel-centered people as church planting residents. And by God’s grace the Paradox Church will be sending out me, Eric and a small delegation of people to join forces with the gospel witness already at work in east Fort Worth. This will be Pillar Church.