I am writing today to let you know that I will be transitioning out of my day-to-day role at Mercy Street to lead the Urban Missions Department at Park Cities Presbyterian Church as they seek to become a church more fully invested in the city. The transition will be taking place over the next nine months, as I fully transfer leadership into Ricky Jimmerson’s competent hands.
During the transition, I will continue to work with Ricky and help him fully take the reins of Mercy Street and ensure we are well positioned for the future. As most of you know, Ricky joined Mercy Street in May and has been the Executive Director since his arrival. He is an excellent leader and a better day-to-day operator than I am. He came to Mercy Street from Kids Across America, the largest inner-city camp in America, where he served for 19 years. With your support, he will take Mercy Street to new and greater heights.
Looking forward, it truly is an exciting time at Mercy Street. We are completing construction of Mercy Street Sports Complex, which will be an incredible gift to the community. We are currently expanding our mentoring program to other neighborhoods in partnership with Behind Every Door and other strategic partners. And we continue to deepen our work here in West Dallas with the kids we have watched grow up over the years.
This decision to transition was not made easily or lightly. But after a year of prayerful consideration and some tears along the way, I felt like the time had come for the ministry and for my family to step into a new role. I will continue to serve on the Board moving forward.
A mentor of mine describes “calling” as something separate from vocation. He says calling is something planted deeply inside you. In my case, I feel called to care about the poor and marginalized in our city and to be a minister of reconciliation. For the last 15 years, I have exercised that call at Mercy Street. I am pursuing the same calling just from a different platform. I will now do it from PCPC. I am excited to take what I have learned at Mercy Street and to help make a more significant impact across the city of Dallas.
To be certain, West Dallas has changed my life and my family’s. We will never be the same.
Melissa and I moved our family to West Dallas almost 15 years ago. It is where our kids have grown up. It is where we added more kids to the household over the years. Some for a long time, some a short time. All of them hold a special place in our hearts. They became family too. Many of them still stop by for dinner on occasion (some frequently) or to do laundry. The relationships we built over the years have enriched our lives in ways that would have been impossible had we not moved. I am firmly convinced that the ministry of proximity is one of the most powerful tools we have as Christians.
We started Mercy Street at the same time we moved to West Dallas. Our goal was simple. We wanted to see young people fulfill their potential and become transformative leaders in the neighborhood. We believed that Christ-centered, long-term relationships were the key to helping the young people thrive. Though the goal was simple, it has not been easy. There are many competing forces working against us—both in the neighborhood and out. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. That is why I am humbled by all the people, like you, God has brought to join me over the years–staff, volunteers, donors, and neighbors--to help in this transformative work. This work is as much yours as mine.
Seeing what God has done in West Dallas over that time is remarkable. Many lives have been transformed by the gospel. We have been part of the physical transformation of the community with Mercy Street Sports Complex. We have helped bring better education to the community. We have helped young people realize their potential and return to West Dallas to give back. And that was always the goal. But that does not mean the work is done. We need you as much as ever. We need you to continue to mentor, coach, give generously and live generously.
I am deeply gratified by my time at Mercy Street. But I was just a steward of God’s work here. It is still God’s work, now with someone else stewarding the day-to-day operations. It is my earnest prayer that everyone reading this will continue your commitment to the ministry of Mercy Street. It is a good and God-glorifying work.