NYC Mayor and Board of Education Want To Use Church Space For UPK Expansion

In recent months, Mayor Bill de Blasio has asked religious institutions to help with his expansion of prekindergarten in New York City. Who benefits the most from this arrangement? Should churches be serving the city in this way? Or are there better ways to help?

On September 4th, 53,000 four year olds in New York City walked into a classroom for the very first time. Some of those classrooms are in community-based or faith-based organizations, including churches. By next year the mayor has promised an additional 20,000 openings. In an effort to generalize the UPK experience across such a diverse array of facilities, the NYC Board of Education has published a set of guidelines that are to be used by religious schools and other faith-based organizations.

Grace Baptist Church in Woodhaven NY

Over the past few weeks I’ve been helping a church plant in Woodhaven NY. Grace Baptist Church has been around for awhile but they just recently moved to Woodhaven from Richmond Hill.

We recently mobilized a couple of mission teams to work with GBC to help them get the word out about their new location. Our teams passed out cookies and crackers on the corner of Woodhaven Blvd and Jamaica Avenue. We know of at least one who has started attending Grace as a result and perhaps others will in the days ahead.

Pastor Peter Nicotra of Grace Baptist Church serving residents of Woodhaven, NY

The church is now renting space from Emanuel United Church of Christ on the corner of 91st Avenue and Woodhaven Blvd. The entrance for Grace Baptist Church is actually on 92nd Avenue, just around the corner.

Entrance for Grace Baptist Church on 92nd Avenue

It has been a joy to work with Pastor Nicotra and we are excited about this new location in Woodhaven.

If you are looking for a church that loves God and loves people, this is the place to go in Woodhaven. You can find out more about them at

Arrival in Queens + Church Planting Goals for Week One

This is just a quick update to let you know that my family has arrived in Queens and we are settling into a temporary residence while we look for an apartment. God has provided for our immediate financial needs and lots of helpers for the move. Our hope is to find an apartment somewhere in the Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Bayside, or Whitestone neighborhoods.

The goal is to make disciples and plant churches in the heart of Queens, NY. We will eventually be working with the North American Mission Board. For now, we are just getting used to the idea that we are now New Yorkers.

Today is my first opportunity to sit down and get organized.

Here are my goals for the week:

  1. See as many apartments as possible until we find the right one for our family and our ministry;
  2. Send an email update to our prayer partners with more details about our church planting and disciple making activity in Queens and our prayer requests;
  3. Touch base with our ministry contacts in NYC to begin the commissioning process with NAMB;
  4. Get a NYC driver’s license and health insurance;
  5. Eat lots of New York pizza and bagels.