For the City
RCA works with CRC to plant churches in New York
Nine years ago, Cora Taitt embarked on an adventure with the people who would eventually form Highbridge Community Church in Bronx, New York. First serving as their preaching elder, she helped lead the congregation to be formally recognized as a church, then was installed as pastor of the church following her graduation from New Brunswick Theological Seminary.
Today, Taitt is still happily leading the people of Highbridge—and she’s also sharing her church-planting knowledge as a co-leader of the New York City Kingdom Enterprise Zone.
A KEZ is a joint partnership between the RCA and Christian Reformed Church of North America, focused on church planting and strengthening churches.
Taitt and her co-leader, Peter Armstrong, lead pastor at Dwell Church (itself a relatively new CRC church plant), have some lofty goals for their KEZ—plant five new churches within the next few years, become a resource center for New York City churches, and bring in interns to teach them about mission work within the city. But she is confident that they’re up for the task.
“Church planting is so exciting, but there are plenty of challenges,” she says. “We know the hard work it takes to plant a church, the struggles that are there and what it takes to endure. You want to see churches be healthy, so we know what questions to ask to make sure that they are building a strong foundation.”
Broadly speaking, Taitt sees the role of the NYC KEZ as something that God uses to “develop potential [church] planters, connect churches with those planters, build partnerships among churches, and create a place of fellowship and learning.” In a city as populous as New York, she says, the need for such a ministry is ever growing.
“I think of Jeremiah who told us to pray for the prosperity of the city,” she says. “Personally, I think the traditional church may have lost touch here—people aren’t making a connection anymore. We need a church willing to become relevant to its community, and that’s what I think KEZ does so well. We look at demographics of the city and see where there’s a need, who’s living in the neighborhoods, and what do they need. For us to make those personal connections, it’s so important, and there’s such a need.
“And being able to connect with the CRC as we do this, we can learn from and resource one another. People know that we’re working together. That’s such a good benefit.”
The NYC KEZ team—Taitt, Armstrong, and leaders from both the RCA and CRCNA—meets once a month, and recently began opening up that meeting to the public in order to gain more input. They’re hosting a coaching workshop in April and a marriage seminar in May, and plan to continue offering events that help to build strong churches. In addition, Taitt and Armstrong plan to visit classis leaders in the greater New York City area to explain who they are and what they’re about, and to see how the NYC KEZ may be of assistance.
As for that goal to plant five churches in the next few years, Taitt says they don’t yet have any concrete plans, but the KEZ is working with a few people who have expressed interest in planting a church.
“We have a strong, good team here,” Taitt says. “They’re passionate about what God has called us to do and walking alongside churches as a resource.
“The city is a hard place—we have to break down some walls for people to let us in. But we’re learning the needs of our city, and we’re in a good place.”