Tales of a Midwest Lutheran on the East Coast

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"We're moving to Trenton!"

 “We’re moving to New Jersey!”

Almost 2 ½ years ago, Beau and I found out that we were being called to an awesome synod on the East Coast. But the reactions we got were… interesting. Our friends and family took the news ranging from “That’s nice” to flat out “Why would you go THERE?” To resident New Jerseyians, it would be reasonable to be affronted by such reactions. How dare they judge a place they’ve never lived, or probably have never visited? But to those who live elsewhere, there is only one image that New Jersey conjures up: gritty industrial sprawl populated by rude people (ala the show “Jersey Shore”). Of course now, I have had first-hand knowledge that this state is not (all) like that. New Jersey is unique, and beautiful, and diverse.


“We’re moving to Trenton!”

Trenton? That place we read about in the paper with violence happening nearly every day? That place with the abandoned buildings and dangerous streets and drugs and gangs and corruption and problems and people who don’t look like us? “Make sure you are careful.” “Don’t go out at night.” “You might want to get some Mace.”*

(You see what I did there?)

Beau and I want to discover sides of Trenton that few people dig deep enough to see. Because in between those articles in the paper about drugs and violence, there are also stories about people trying to help, trying to make Trenton a better place. God’s up to something in this place that seems to have been abandoned by the leadership of this state. Beau will be devoting himself fully to this exploration and I will be accompanying him as much I am able, along with my normal pastoral ministries at my congregation. 

But it's going to be different. Some things are going to be challenging, and others will change. Like my commute. My commute has not just increased in time, but it has increased in socio-economic range: on my way to church I now pass multi-million dollar houses and homeless people on the street. Every day now I get cultural whip-lash, but I fervently pray that I will never not see the injustice in it. 

Pray for us. We're going to need all the help we can get!!

*Of course Beau and I are going to be careful. This kind of situation is not one to take lightly. We have been so thankful to all of those who live and work in Trenton who have given us some really good advice, which we gratefully accept. It is when general advice is offered, coming from a place of fear, from those who have had little to no contact with the city that I frankly find grating. I was completely unprepared for all the unsolicited advice. We may be crazy for doing what we're doing, but we're trying not to be stupid about it!! 


  1. I'm sure there are sad aspects to Beau's leaving his church, but being able to delve full heartedly into the city as a whole, rather than focusing on just one congregation and its parishoners, and its people sounds SO exciting and will certainly make him all the more equipped for his next call. I'm actually really jealous.

  2. I pray that God protects the two of you as you do his work. In every large city that seems to be the lowest of the lows you will always find shining examples of Him

  3. Arden and I pray for you and for Beau as you begin your new work for the Lord.
    Marion Moe