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It’s difficult to know where to begin, so I’ll start at the end: in July we are moving to Lexington, Kentucky. Yes, we are moving. It has been a crazy couple of months wrestling with the Lord and trying to understand what He is doing. Before the bluegrass was on our radar, God began a work of renovation in my life–a work that was and is oftentimes exhausting, sometimes painful, but ultimately restorative. Sanctification can be hard, but, man, is it good. The faithfulness of God has been a rock for me in this season.

A few months ago, I received a call from a pastor in Lexington about being a part of a church plant in downtown Lexington–a plant that would be the start of a church plant initiative throughout the region. I was very clear with him that we weren’t looking to leave Roanoke, that we were all in here–we love this place, the people, and our church. But, I listened, and surprisingly, my interest grew. Betsie and I were certainly resistant to the prospect of moving, but we walked through the process with open hands. Through a visit, an official interview and many conversations, God began to change our hearts. Frankly, I was confused. My unceasing prayers were like this: “Lord, what are you doing? Why now? Are you sure? This doesn’t make sense!” and so on. It seemed that every waking moment was riddled with the prospect of uprooting.

Believe me when I say that we have agonized over this decision. We have prayed fervently and sought wisdom from mentors, and though we were resistant to it, God’s call to Lexington became clear. Right now, we are in the midst of grieving leaving this wonderful place. Honestly, there are many days when this makes no sense to me, but we go forward in faith and trust that God will bring greater clarity with each step. Faith is so much easier when we just talk about it What will I be doing in Lexington? I will be the worship and arts pastor of the downtown church plant which launches in August. I will oversee/lead the music and eventually oversee the music of all the church plant sites. I also will be figuring out how to engage the arts community as a church that values the arts, especially in light of the gospel and the kingdom of God. I’m excited (and yes, terrified) about the opportunity and know that God is in this.

I love you dearly and am sad to leave. I’m grateful that these relationships are eternal, that the seeds we plant together will, by the grace of God, bear fruit. I have grown immensely in my time here. Quigg has been a faithful mentor, but even more, a dear friend. He has been incredible through this process, walking with open hands, not wanting to stand in the way of God’s calling. And…he’s praying that we come back someday.

Roanoke is home, and leaving home is hard. I’m sure the coming months will be filled with laughter, tears, joy, fear, hope, and anticipation, but the greatest consolation I have is in God Himself. He holds it all together. He goes before us. He is with us. He loves His Church Though our daily lives will be colored with a different shade of blue–from the Blue Ridge to the Bluegrass–we still persevere together for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One more thing. You may be asking, “Well, who is going to be our worship leader?” God has been gracious to provide that person, someone we know and love: Julie Wright. Quigg and I have worked together to make sure this transition is smooth and are excited about Julie stepping into this position. She brings so much to our church, and I am eager to see how the Lord uses her in the coming years I’ll end with this prayer from the Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I love you,

Justin