Dear Veritas City Church,
I write this letter to you with a bittersweet joy. This will come as a surprise to some, and not as a surprise at all to others. Of course, it’s always best to deliver news like this in person (preferably on a Sunday when we can all gather together), but who knows the next time we will all be back together in person. I didn’t want to tell you over Zoom (because that would be awful), so I’ve prayerful decided to write a letter to you.
On June 26, 2016, our sending church rallied around my family, laid hands on us, prayed over us, and commissioned us to plant Veritas City Church in the Georgetown community of Washington, DC. It has been almost 4-years to the date, and it seems like we only just blinked.
However, within that blink, we have accomplished a lot together.
- The Gibson’s moved to DC on August 1, 2016 (with a 2-year-old and 4-year-old in tow).
- Our core team met for the first time on January 2, 2017 (it was like 5 degrees that night).
- We launched Veritas City Church with 140-people at our first gathering on September 10, 2017.
- We planted our flag in Georgetown on July 1, 2018, when we moved into our new building at the heart of the Georgetown Waterfront.
- We installed our first Deacons on July 1, 2018 (I was so excited about moving into our new building that I actually forgot to install them during the service… it was a gracious disaster).
- We had 165+ in attendance on Easter Sunday in 2019 (who knows how many in 2020).
- We hired 5 staff over the last few years.
- We on-boarded 100+ covenant members.
- We launched a lot of City Groups around the city.
- We installed our first Elder Council on March 1.
- And we launched Collective Food during the COVID-19 pandemic (which has given out over 5,000 meals to date to our homeless neighbors).
- And best of all, we’ve seen many people come to faith in Christ and be baptized over the course of 4-years.
Many people doubted that a new church could be planted in the affluent and secular neighborhood of Georgetown. In fact, when I told some of our plans to plant a church in Georgetown 4-years ago, they just rolled their eyes. Some were audible with their disapproval, and others just gave us that good ol’ fashioned, “Good luck, man” speech. But through it all, God was faithful to build HIS CHURCH (Matt. 16:18).
That is why it is so bittersweet to write this letter to you, and to tell you that we are moving back to Tennessee, because I have accepted a new position at Foothills Church—the same church that commissioned us and sent us out with such high hopes and expectations in June of 2016.
MY NEW POSITION AT FOOTHILLS CHURCH
Starting September 1st, I will be the new Pastor for Strategic Leadership at Foothills Church. This means that I will oversee all multisite strategy and be over all of the different locations of Foothills Church, starting with their new campus to be launched in the Bearden/downtown community of Knoxville in 2021, and all of the subsequent locations to follow. There are over 1.5 million people in the Knoxville metropolitan areas of Knox County, Blount County, and Sevier County, and I am excited about expanding the work of Foothills Church to these areas of East Tennessee.
I will also start and lead The Foothills Network—a network of gospel-centered and like-minded churches around the world. Within The Foothills Network, we will also have a residency program for future church planters and pastors to be equipped in partnership with our SBC seminaries and other like-minded church planting networks.
My last day at Veritas City Church will be July 31 (exactly 4-years from the day we moved to DC).
VERITAS, WE ARE TAKING MORE GROUND TOGETHER
As you can see, we are taking more ground for the gospel of King Jesus, and if you have been around me at all over the last 4-years, you have known that to be my rallying cry. I am a “little a” apostolic leader (Eph. 4:11). This means that I am at my best when I am released to start new churches and new ministries.
From the beginning, I have led Veritas in such a way as to replace myself as soon as possible. That is why I have hired staff in our early days, spent energy on building leaders, spent resources on a building, and put forth bandwidth toward developing teams to lead. After all, this is the goal of pastoral ministry—to equip the saints for the work (Eph. 4:12). And, goodness, does our little army put in the work!
Veritas, as you send us back to Foothills Church, you send us back to take more ground for the gospel. And in doing so, you send us back in loving partnership. Over the next year as we start The Foothills Network, my prayer is that Veritas City Church will be one of the founding churches of this new network. With that said, we will continue to see one another, partner together, and care for one another as Paul instructs us to do so (Phil. 4:14-19). In that, I could not be more proud!
WHAT’S NEXT FOR VERITAS?
So what’s next for Veritas? Let me say that I am truly excited about what is ahead for Veritas City Church. I know it’s cliche to say this, but I do believe that the best is yet to come for our church. It has to be. We have only thus far created the beach-head, and now it’s your time to get out of the boat and storm the beaches, and, you guessed it, take more ground for the gospel in Georgetown.
If I could dream for Veritas City Church for just a moment, my dream would be to see a church in Georgetown that lasts for the next 100+ years. My dream is to see a church that is a lighthouse for the gospel in a community that desperately needs it. My dream is to see a church that starts and hosts a ministry center that meets the holistic needs of our city. My dream is to see a church that plants churches all throughout the 8 different wards of our city (and all throughout the DMV… and to the ends of the earth). And I can’t wait to bring my children (and Lord willing, my grandchildren) back to DC one day to walk down the streets of Georgetown and point out the church that we moved here to start back in 2016 that is still taking ground for the gospel in this incredible city.
Immediately, however, nothing will change. We will continue to error on gatherings, groups, and generosity (our simple ministry strategy), and our staff and elders will lead us into gathering again in person soon enough.
Our administrative elders (Keith Hiller, Billy Bob Brown, and Joey Corkey) will work together with our networks (the North American Mission Board and Sent Network) to lead the charge on finding our new Lead Pastor. They will create a job description/posting, prayerfully interview and consider candidates, and introduce a new Lead Pastor candidate to you in due time.
And now I want to thank a million people…
THANK YOU TO 175+ VERITAS-ERS
The best part about Veritas City Church is five thousand percent the people who make it what it is, which is far and away the saddest part for me in this transition. Over the last 3-years, we have seen a sea of people call Veritas City Church home at one time or another. Washington, D.C. is famous for transiency. People come and go. And “gospel goodbyes” happen often in our church and city.
I am thankful for this list of dear friends who have called Veritas City Church home at one time or another as a core team member, covenant member, or attender during the last 3-years (I am sure to have accidentally left people out of this list):
- Grace, Cora, and Iver Gibson (first covenant members)
- Luke, Caitlin, Mark, Penny, and Clem Johnston (core team member; first covenant members)
- Dan and Rachel Webb (core team members; first covenant members)
- Isaac Riddle
- Wise Allen
- Lindsey Adkins
- James and Caroline Agan
- Edwin Amari
- Christian Andrews
- Reagan and Savannah Ault (staff)
- Jamie Baker
- Philip Baites
- Carlsky Belizaire
- Harley Bloecher
- Hunter and Taylor Bloecher
- Kathryn Boswell
- Grant and Haley Bowden
- Billy Bob and Nancy Brown (core team members; elder; deacon)
- Nathan and Lauren Bryan
- Melissa Cady
- Tom and Megan Caputo
- Martha Celis (core team member)
- Leonard, Marcy, Nolan, and Nathaniel Chen
- Milagros Chocce (core team member)
- Steven Chung
- Jared and Haillie Church
- Gina Corelli
- Joey and Hayleigh Corkey (elder)
- Elijah and Olivia Cruise (staff)
- Josh and Mackenzie Dajani
- Marissa Dake
- Scott Doescher
- Lance Downing
- Levi Dyches
- David Kelly
- Meredith English
- Meredith Fick
- Caleb Fisher
- Paul Frakes (core team member)
- Mark Gabriel
- Carson Garrett
- Isabella Gatti
- Janice George
- Janey Green
- Briana Gober
- Homero Gonzalez
- Andile, Tsitsi and Tanashe Gova
- Kevin and Nayrana Griffith
- Abby Guidera
- Jack Heer
- Sandra Hernando
- Emily Hill
- Keith, Pamela, Emily, and Allison Hiller (core team members; elder)
- Derek, Amanda, Nathaniel, George, and Esther Hoyt
- Jinguen Hu
- Madeline Ingram
- Oluwatoyosi Ipaye
- Kyle James
- Kyle Johnson
- Kathryn King
- Joel Klein
- Steven Kurapaty
- Barbara Lawton
- Genevieve Lai
- Rich and Oma Luss
- Chris and Kendall Loizou
- Annie Maietta
- Kevin and Nicole Maneffa
- Taylor and Madison Mansfield
- David Marble (core team member; deacon)
- Arlen and Gladys McCorkle
- Nick McCoy
- Bri McKinney (staff)
- Katrin Meiusi (core team member)
- Lee, Carrie, and Liam Miller
- Katarina Milovech
- Anuja Mohapatra
- Zack Myers
- Jon, Courtney, Drew, and Krista Nadig
- Elise Nance
- Maurese Nelson
- Tom Nichols
- Journey Nunnelee
- Nik Oliverio
- Logan Othmer
- Nelson Oviedo
- Andrew Palmeter
- Gabriela Perez
- Rachael Perry
- Demo Peng
- Stephanie Penn
- Anastasia Peregrin
- Esther Pormes
- Jacque Pruitt (core team member)
- Ben and Carrie Radford
- Jonathan, Sarah, Hannah, and Abby Ramirez
- Keikki and Amanda Rautalahti
- Lauren Reed
- Salim Riley
- Steve and Rachel Sadlon
- Savannah Schafer
- Matt Schmidt (core team member)
- Emily Seeger
- Tyler and Meredith Sells (core team member)
- Lani Short
- Ana Silva
- Beatrice Smith (core team member)
- David and Faith Smith
- Darrell and Monica Smith
- Aubrey Swanson
- DJ, Beth, Jedidiah, Jethro, Esther, and Jamie Sworobuk
- Doug Syphex
- Dolly Taylor
- Jordan, Macey, Mclendon, and Charlie Thigpen (staff)
- Mary Shannon Tompson
- Katrina Trompeta
- Sally Tucker
- Robby Veronesi
- Alexandria Waters
- Cameron and Meredith Waterworth (staff; elder)
- Ron Wilson
- Austin Wu
- Caleb Yip
- Lance Zhong
THANK YOU TO THE 33 CHURCHES WHO PARTNERED WITH US IN THE WORK
It takes a Mt. Everest-sized mountain of partners to plant a church like Veritas City Church in Washington, D.C. I want to thank all 33 of our ministry partners who at some level gave money, sent teams, and encouraged me through coaching and training. Your invisible fingerprints are all over the work of Veritas.
I began traveling to raise money for this church plant back in February of 2016. I have fond memories of road trips to different churches with Grace and the kids back in the early stages. Fundraising is not for the faint of heart, however. Grace counted 65-days I was on the road fundraising the first 3-months we lived in Washington, DC in 2016 (which kind of makes it hard to plant a church when you’re fundraising the entire time, much less be a good husband and good dad, but God was still faithful through it all). Since that first trip in February of 2016, God has been faithful to provide over $1.5 million for the work of planting Veritas in Georgetown through our networks, partners, and members/attenders.
Here is a full list of our ministry partners over the last 4-years:
- Bay Area Community Church (Annapolis, MD)
- Bay Life Church (Tampa, FL)
- Berea Baptist Church (Durham, NC)
- Capital Hill Baptist Church (Washington, DC)
- Central Baptist Church (Jonesboro, AR)
- Community Bible Church (Beaufort, SC)
- Essential Church (Huntsville, AL)
- Fairview Church (Lebanon, TN)
- FBC Lyons (Lyons, GA)
- FBC Jonesboro (Atlanta, GA)
- FBC Winder (Winder, GA)
- First Baptist Selmer (Jackson, TN)
- Foothills Church (Knoxville, TN)
- Grace Baptist Church (Knoxville, TN)
- Green Hill Baptist Church (West Columbia, SC)
- Green Level Baptist Church (Cary, NC)
- King’s Academy Christian School (Knoxville, TN)
- Kingsland First Baptist Church (Kingsland, GA)
- McLean Bible Church (Washington, DC)
- Mt Ararat Baptist Church (Stafford, VA)
- Open Door Baptist Church (Raleigh, NC)
- Pleasant Valley Community Church (Owensboro, KY)
- Pillar Church of Dumfries (Dumfries, VA)
- Salem Baptist Church (Apex, NC)
- Shades Mountain Baptist Church (Birmingham, AL)
- Sherwood Baptist Church (Sherwood, GA)
- Shoal Creek Baptist Church (Decatur, AL)
- Saluda River Baptist Church (West Columbia, SC)
- Springdale Baptist Church (West Columbia, SC)
- Tri-Cities Baptist Church (Johnson City, TN)
- The Journey Church (Nashville, TN)
- Valley Grove Baptist Church (Knoxville, TN)
- Woodlawn FBC (Woodlawn, IL)
THANK YOU TO THE FOUR NETWORKS WHO HAVE RESOURCED US SO WELL
I also want to say a universe-sized THANK YOU to our 4 networks that we are a part of at Veritas.
- The North American Mission Board (NAMB)
- SENT Network
- SBC of Virginia (SBVC)
- New City Network (of McLean Bible Church)
I can say with 100% confidence that Veritas would not exist without the resources, training, and encouragement of these 4 networks. Furthermore, I can say with even more confidence that Veritas would not exist without these 5 men in my life:
Mark McGeever (founder and executive director of SENT Network) has been a faithful and steady mentor and coach for me throughout the last 4-years. In fact, he has pastored me more than anyone throughout this process. My heart is still healthy as a leader in many ways because of Mark McGeever’s mentorship, counseling, and coaching. He has taken all of my venting, discouragement, and questioning and applied the gospel to all of it (often times for encouragement, but also sometimes for my rebuke).
Mark Campbell (NAMB City Missionary) has been a faithful and encouraging friend and mentor throughout the last 4-years. Mark has talked me off cliffs and out of valleys more than anyone I know, and I am thankful for his wise and winsome leadership in my life. More than that, Mark has become a dear friend in the gospel.
Clint Clifton (former NAMB City Missionary and some other important title now at NAMB that I can’t remember) has been a faithful practitioner in my life. I have been in front of more white boards with Clint than any other human in history. Many of the things/programs Veritas is doing has Clint Clifton’s fingerprints all over them (as well as the countless dollar resources he has rallied together for us over the years).
Vince Blubaugh (church planting director of SBCV) has been a steady encourager and fighter for resources for me throughout the last 4-years. He has taken me to more lunches and boughten me more crab dip than any other human. I am thankful for his constant encouraging stream of text messages that fill my phone weekly.
Billy Bob Brown (core team member, founding member, deacon, and now elder at Veritas) has been the most faithful person in my life the last 4-years (outside of my wife). I have the upmost respect for this man, and he has become one of my closest partners in the gospel. Together, we have travelled to Iceland, India, and Germany for missions. Through all circumstances, Billy Bob Brown (or B3 as I call him) has shown me what it means to be steady and faithful. There is no other human (maybe besides his incredible wife, Nancy) that I would choose to plant a church with than B3. He has been the single biggest source of God’s grace in my life over the last 4-years.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, THANK YOU TO GRACE, CORA, AND IVER WHO HAVE SACRIFICED SO MUCH
I can’t even type anything here without crying. No one knows the hardships and journeys of a church planting family like the wife of a church planter. She sees the anxieties and discouragements up front and personal.
Grace, thank you for trusting me when we were driving down the road back in 2015 and I turned to you and said, “I think God is calling us to plant a church in Washington, D.C.” Who would have ever thought that we would be 5-years down the road reflecting on and celebrating all that God has done? No one will ever know the amount of sacrifice you have given to see Veritas City Church become a reality. You are the single most steady person that I know, and perfect for the roller coaster lifestyle that God has created me to live.
Thank you for everything that no one will ever thank you for. Thank you for taking a risk. Thank you for running a small business out of our home so that we could afford to live in Georgetown. Thank you for raising our kids faithfully in a very young church. Thank you for even bringing our kids to church even when they were the only kids in the kid’s ministry. Thank you for throwing our kids incredible birthday parties before they had any friends in the city. Thank you for giving hundreds and hundreds of hours to volunteer at Stoddert Elementary School. Thank you for letting me fail so many times and giving me the confidence I need to march forward. Thank you for speaking truth to me when others won’t or are afraid to do so. Thank you for embodying our Gibson Family Values (live small, give big, make it better, love globally, and leave a legacy). And thank you for the grace you’ve shown people… when you have every right to punch some of them in throat. You are, without a doubt, the single greatest human on earth, and anyone who thinks anything less is a complete moron (in the most loving way possible).
Cora and Iver, I pray that you’ve seen your daddy live out the gospel and sacrifice in ways that teach you about the sacrifice of Jesus for you. You will never be a casualty of ministry.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
First, pray for the administrative elders as they begin the process to find a new Lead Pastor. Pray also for the staff (Cameron, Savannah, and Elijah) as they lead the church throughout this time, as well.
Second, pray for the Gibson’s as we transition.
Third, let’s get together. We’ll be around for another month or longer, and I look forward to seeing many of you over coffee, lunch, or dinner throughout the next few weeks. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions, comments, or to set something up.
And I’ll be reaching out to you, as well.
For His Glory,
Pastor Greg Gibson
Lead Pastor; Veritas City Church
Wednesday, June 18, 2020