A vision emerges one step at a time. Some steps are easy. Some steps seem treacherous. Whether the steps are baby steps or giant leaps of faith, God oftentimes reveals a vision piece by piece as we move forward. Such was the case for Peter Ahn and the vision of Metro Community Church.
The vision for Metro began in August 2000 when Peter and his wife Jenny uprooted their lives in New Jersey and relocated nearly 3,000 miles away. After working in the television industry, Peter took the step in pursuing God’s call to ministry. The first step led Peter to Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA.
It was at Fuller where God began to touch Peter’s heart with new ideas about the Christian faith, one of which is the undeniable call to love and serve the poor and oppressed, and thus, the vision of Metro was birthed. After a year of visiting various churches in Southern California, Peter and Jenny walked through the doors of NewSong Community Church in Irvine. As Pastor Dave Gibbons shared of the need to reach out to the poor and oppressed, Peter knew he had found the church where he belonged. After becoming involved with the NewSong community, Peter joined the staff for two years serving in various spiritual formation ministries of the church. This was a great season of growth where Peter learned how to lead a church that is effectively reaching the people who were typically disinterested in the church.
The next step for Peter was to form a core team of people, both from California and back in New Jersey. A year before the Ahn’s moved back to New Jersey, weekly prayer meetings were held on both sides of the country in preparation for the start of this as-of-yet unnamed church. Peter and Jenny would undergo an assessment by the Evangelical Covenant Church to determine their ability and readiness for the work of church planting. In the summer of 2002, the vision and values of this new church were written down, and a strategy plan was created. The decision was made to name the church, Metro Community Church. The name would reflect the target of the New York metro area and the vision for a relational and diverse community.
After receiving his MDiv, Peter and Jenny along with their baby daughter Christina spent three months in various Covenant churches around the country to learn from those who had done the work of church planting before them. The Ahn’s moved back to New Jersey in September of 2003. In the month following, a group of 13 people met in Peter’s long time friends, Evan and Shirley You’s two-bedroom condo for weekly Sunday gatherings. In December of 2003, Metro moved into its first public space. The Fort Lee Athletic Club with its wood-paneled interior would become Metro’s home for its first year. The first public preview service was held on January 18, 2004. Even in the midst of snowstorms and a bone-chilling winter, sixty-seven people attended the service. The excitement for Metro and its vision continued to grow, and it officially launched as a new church on Easter Sunday of 2004.
Over the next few years, Metro has continued to grow in size and in scope. The next steps for evolving the vision of Metro have been about packing and unpacking in different locations. After outgrowing the FLAC, Metro made its home in the ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Englewood. From there the Fort Lee Jewish Community Center opened its doors to become Metro’s third home. In October 2006, Metro moved into the Lincoln Elementary School in Englewood, New Jersey. Finally, in the Spring of 2009, Metro has moved to its current home at Dr. John Grieco Elementary School in Englewood. Englewood has proven to be a fitting home for Metro and its vision to embrace living as a third culture community.
Metro has also taken further steps in reaching out to those who are hurting. Our annual Livin’ It Up banquet for the homeless, regular soup kitchen participation, and involvement with South Africa and the formation of an organization called Zimele, are all part of the vision God has given to Metro. Metro’s history has been about taking steps of faith and witnessing the goodness of God. This is just the beginning, and we are still taking those steps. We are anticipating greater things to come.