Moffatt comes home to York Street

Joseph Smith

The Rev Justin Moffatt will return to ministry in Sydney after spending the last three years in the heart of New York.

Mr Moffatt hopes to land in Sydney in mid-January to start serving as the new rector of St Philip's, York St as the summer winds down and a new year gets underway.

A lifelong Sydney Anglican, Mr Moffatt completed his studies at Moore College in 1997 and ministered at Christ Church, St Ives from 1997 to 2005.

He began contemplating overseas ministry after meeting with former Sydney Anglican and current rector of Christ Church NYC, the Rev John Mason, in 2002.

"We resonated with his challenge of urban gospel ministry, and with the needs of New York City in particular," Mr Moffatt says.

Mr Moffatt and his wife Laurel(pictured) arrived in New York with their two children in Christmas, 2005. Their son Henry was born in NYC in May this year.

Mr Moffatt says ministering in NYC has been "exciting, joyful, hard and difficult'.

"Manhattan is über-urban, globalised, professional, fast, expensive, dense, postmodern, and maybe even post-Christian. New Yorkers often feel very disconnected, and yet are often too overworked to make lasting friendships," he says.

"I think that the Gospel of Jesus, declared graciously and lived out in community, speaks to the people of the city. But New York is certainly not easy ground."

Mr Moffatt says "serving the saints at Christ Church NYC' has been the highlight.

"The church is full of wonderful people who love Jesus, and love the household of faith and reach out to their neighbours," he says.

Mr Moffatt also had the chance to learn from Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

"I enjoyed a year being trained by the Redeemer Church Planting Centre. They stress a holistic ministry in obedience to the gospel and in order to love the city. They urge their planters to engage the culture as well as tend to the needs of the city.

"I will miss America, I will miss Christ Church and I will miss being near my wife's American family."

Mr Moffatt says there are a number of ways ministering in NYC is different to Sydney.

"NYC has a more urban, rather than a suburban, mindset. More people choose to live in the city. Many families are raised in Downtown and Midtown New York, whereas more Sydney people will move to the suburbs and commute in," he reveals.

"People will come to Sydney and stay their whole lives, whereas New Yorkers will come and then go all over America.  I also think that Sydney is even more secular than New York."

From New York to York St

Mr Moffatt says he and Laurel fought the call of God to leave New York, "for we love New York", but he says "God kept prompting us".

"I woke up in summer and realised that God wanted me to become a senior minister. It's time for me to gather people to develop, cast, and measure a vision for the city," he says.

"When the nominators of York St contacted me, I kept thinking that this was a good fit: we have had good urban ministry experience; we can see that the city centre is experiencing a renewal, and we can see how an historically significant and geographically central church like St Philip's, York Street, is poised to take Christ to the city of Sydney."

Mr Moffatt says it will be a challenge to reach the city based on the statistical research he has done.

"I'm told that the average age of a CBD dweller is 28. The residents of the CBD are by and large un-churched. According to some census reports I've read, there are more people who choose "no religion' over Catholic, and almost twice as many people that tick Buddhist, over Anglican," Mr Moffatt reveals.

"The CBD is therefore a mission field. There are many lonely overseas students, young professionals and homeless people all living and working in the same small space."

Mr Moffatt says there are numerous things he is looking forward to in moving to St Philip's.

"St Philip's is a church in the city that proclaims Christ to the city. It has a rich tradition of liturgy, placing its deep roots in historical and reformed Anglicanism," he says.

"They have recently been forming new vision that is both mindful of its Anglican traditions, while looking forward to reaching a new generation.

"I am very much looking forward to meeting the members of the Church, as well as working with them to grow the ministry. And there will be new people who join the work. I'm looking forward to developing a vision for the church as it serves the city."

For more Justin Moffatt news read his blog.

And Justin is inviting people who want to partner with the ministry at York St to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Photo: Front page thumbnail image copyright of James Pyun.