By: Noelle Beans
Braden and Jenn Petersen, lead pastors of Resurrection Life NYC, are both currently pursuing master’s degrees at Wesley Seminary here at Indiana Wesleyan. Braden is pursuing his Master of Practical Theology, and Jenn is pursuing her Master of Divinity. They express that Wesley Seminary has been great for both their personal growth and the ministry in which they find themselves in now. The Petersens feel that the professors have taken a personal interest in them as pastors and as people and have been willing to invest themselves into their students. They have also met fellow seminarians who have become life-long friends.
Before Wesley Seminary, the Petersens’ ministry journey began in worship ministry in Dallas, TX with Braden having a bachelor’s degree of Music in Jazz Studies and Jenn, a bachelor’s degree of Music in Voice, both from the University of Northern Iowa. But while on vacation in New York City in the summer of 2014, shortly after Braden’s completion of his master’s degree of Business Administration from Oklahoma Wesleyan University, they felt called to pastoral ministry.
Three years ago, after 17 years of ministry in the Dallas, TX, area, the Petersens sensed God calling them into this completely new chapter in their lives. The Petersens call it “a series of providential events” that led them to plant a church in NYC which began with an innocent question, “Why are there no Wesleyan churches in Manhattan?” This question blossomed into a passion and emerging vision to plant churches that plant churches in the most influential and one of the most secular cities in the United States. In August 2015 Braden, Jenn and their children, Aidan (15) and Emma (13) moved to NYC to begin the process of planting Resurrection Life NYC in center-city Manhattan.
After nearly two years of living in the city and building their launch team, the Petersens launched Resurrection Life NYC on the Upper East Side of Manhattan on April 9, 2017. ResLifeNYC transformed into a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic congregation with 14 countries represented in the congregation. The Petersens say, “There is a groundswell of church planting happening in the city right now, and Resurrection Life NYC is participating in a move of the Holy Spirit to see churches planting in all five boroughs of the city, which we believe will influence a multiplication movement across the country and around the world.” They also state that living in the city is difficult and uncomfortable. They brought Resurrection Life NYC into existence to connect city dwellers with the resurrection power of Jesus to transform lives, families, neighborhoods, and cities amidst the busyness of the city.
The Petersens both shared a quote and a verse that shed light on their experience and mission. In his essay, Here is New York, E.B. White says, “By comparison with other less hectic days, the city is uncomfortable and inconvenient; but New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience—if they did they would live elsewhere.” The Petersens wholeheartedly agree with this. Their biggest obstacle to living in NYC has been raising funds to do ministry because the growth is slow. Like White expresses, New Yorkers do not choose to live in NYC because they crave comfort and convenience, but they chose the chaotic life for other reasons, just as the Petersens have chosen NYC as their mission field regardless of the constant pressures on their ministry and family because they trust in God’s faithfulness.
Secondly, their verse for living in New York City comes from Jeremiah 29:7, written for God’s people who find themselves in exile. It reads, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” They hold fast to this verse because they truly believe that they are called to bring hope and peace into NYC. The Petersens said, “…as God blesses a movement of church planting in the city–that as NYC prospers–so will the Church in our country and around the world.”
The Petersens would like to share with current IWU students five things. 1) Consider helping a church plant wherever you end up living after graduation “If that happens to be New York City, please look us up!” they added! 2) Give yourself grace because it truly takes time to discover God’s personal vision for your life. 3) Live a life of surrender, generosity and mission. 4) Get out of debt quickly and 5) Learn to ask good questions. Be a life-long student wherever you go!
To connect with the Petersens please visit reslifenyc.com.
Written by Noelle Beans, a writer for the Alumni Center. Noelle is a freshman Nursing and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College.