On Monday June 20, the Cell Leader Coordinators officially dispatched two new pastors, Julie Hoke and Jerome Stafford. Julie and I are committed to the vision of Circle of Hope to be a body of believers that is “ready and able to relate to the people of our day.” We recognize the need to reach out to the people in our neighborhoods, and the best way we know how to do that is to bring the church to people. We multiply congregations rather than forming one big congregation big to answer all the needs of each neighborhood. We feel called to start something new where God is leading in Northwest Philadelphia.
On a personal note, it is reassuring to have the blessings of the Cell Leader Coordinators who represent the trust and guidance of the entire church! Their words of wisdom and warning were encouraging and informative. They affirmed the gifts that are growing within us and assured us of their support for our next steps as a team. Julie and I are excited to get to do this work. The faith required to try something new generates a living and abiding faith. It’s a faith that keeps growing people and deepens us with with Jesus. Our mission is to continue to challenge ourselves to trust that God is doing something in our region and that we are part of that movement.
-Jerome Stafford, reporting
Jerome moved to Philadelphia in 2014 for seminary and was immediately enveloped into Circle of Hope’s community. He served as a Cell Leader Coordinator before becoming an apprentice pastor in 2015. He married Darcy in March 2015. Their son, Ellison, was born May 2016. The Staffords reside in Southwest Philadelphia.