We are, together, believing God to turn the world upside down. We are a team. There are a few of us who work vocationally or part-time to serve in unleashing this generation for the flourishing of the city. Here’s a little about us:
Sam and Kimberly Leopold
Sam and Kimberly moved to the city in the summer of 2016 after spending the first 6 years of their marriage in Rome, Italy. The Italian culture taught them a lot about prioritizing people over tasks (and how to enjoy some amazing food in the process), and they are excited to incorporate those values into their life here in New York City. God is continually teaching them that He can use their imperfections to bring them closer to Him and to experience a richer and fuller life. In their spare time, you can find Sam studying for his seminary degree and Kimberly cooking something from scratch. They have two daughters, Eloise and Evelyn, and their favorite thing to do in the city as a family is to explore new parks on the Upper West Side where they live.
I've always felt between two worlds. I like Marvel movies and musicals, hip-hop and country, fitness and comfort food, dreadlocks and Jesus. Regardless of where I've been, I've been burdened by the divisions that exist between us and compelled to break those barriers. That's why I'm so inspired by Jesus Christ. He stood between the biggest gaps ever, the gap between rich and poor, white and black, Jew and Gentile, male and female, and most of all God and humanity. He made the deepest connections possible for us all. In a world as divided as ours, Jesus' life is not a legacy to simply be examined, or explored, but an example to be followed. Where better to do such a work than in New York City among millennials? That's why I'm so grateful that I get to serve as the leadership development pastor at the Bridge Church in Brooklyn. It's a church where a multi-ethnic gathering of millennials from all over New York grow as a family and look to bridge all that can divide us in our city.
I first moved to NYC in August of 2005 and stayed for a year. After spending time in London, upstate NY and Orlando, I moved back to the city in August of 2015. I never expected to move back 10 years later, but God gave me an excitement about reaching people who are influencing our culture. Millennials in New York City are those kind of people. I am overwhelmed when I stop and realize how much of a gift it is to be able to live and work here. I love exploring the city, trying new foods, walking in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and being awed by the beauty of the city.
Growing up as a classical ballet dancer from Alabama, I would travel to New York in the summers to train with American Ballet Theatre. Being subjected to the many cultures and different lifestyles of the city at a young age, I became hooked and intrigued by city life. My passion for art and my longing to see all tribes and nations know Him translates perfectly in New York City. I know the destruction of a life lived in isolation as a ballet dancer all too well, and so I long to help people find community and thrive in relationships with others and with Christ.
Cody and Kelsey Dunn
God's grace in the unexpected has been a resounding theme of our story. Kelsey never thought she'd marry a Southerner, and Cody never thought he'd live in New York City. In the years since college, the surprises that have come our way have included both thrilling adventures and confusing disappointments. Experiencing God's startling goodness and constant presence in those painful times has given us a passion to come alongside others who, like us, are figuring out how to walk with Jesus in their twenties in this city we love so much.
Originally from NYC, I spent 12 years in Texas and never expected to come back. 5 years ago, God brought me back to the city, and I went from working in Ministry to Finance, Consulting and Fashion. Never did I think my life would take such a turn, yet God used it to break my heart. The world screams, “perform out of fear,” but the Gospel screams, “work wholeheartedly out of freedom” much louder. Fullness of life in Jesus is real, and I long to help Millennials navigate and flourish in their vocations and communities.
Being from the state that connects Boston and New York, I guess it makes sense that I would move to the Big Apple after living 6 years in Bean Town, where I went to school for film and creative writing at Brandeis University and worked 2 years after in campus ministry with Cru. I am very excited to jump into what God is doing here in New York, specifically amongst the young artists' community, and learn more what it looks like to use my gifts and talents as a writer and filmmaker to flourish and bless the city!
Five days after September 11, 2001, I walked into a random church service looking for answers. That day I heard the truth about Jesus. My life was changed forever. I was 22 years old. When the Lord first called me to NYC ten years later, it felt like a sweet full-circle moment. So many things, events, and decisions shape a person in their 20s and 30s. It truly is a defining decade! Being here in NYC, watching lives transformed by the gospel is a site to see! So, I also count it a privilege to be a pastor at Communitas Church (a church that is 85% homeless) in Lower Manhattan as a way to foster transformative relationships between NYC Millennials and the fastest growing population in the city...the homeless and those who struggle with the cycles of poverty.