A Letter I Never Thought I’d Write

Our Beloved Family,

This will be the final letter I write to you as a Chicago pastor and planter. Elizabeth, the kids, and I are leaving Chicago and moving to Huntsville, Alabama.

Most all of you know us deeply enough to recognize the enormous weight those statements bear on our hearts. Neither one of us ever really envisioned a Humboldt Park without us in it.

Why would we leave?

There is a great deal to unpack and explain here, and the decision to leave has taken a great deal of prayer, thought, joy and tears, so I’m mercifully going to lay out our journey in a more detailed letter for those who would desire to read it via the hyperlink below.

Read the full letter here.

For the summarized version, know that we would never consider an exit from our beloved city and people if we were not concretely convinced that God was directing us to do so. Though neither one of us had ever anticipated leaving, we are persuaded that now is the time to pass the leadership of the church into others’ hands, and relocate to be near Elizabeth’s parents. 

What is the future of Legacy Humboldt Park?

We have transitioned the oversight and care of Legacy Humboldt Park into the capable hands of a dear Puerto Rican brother who was born and raised in Chicago. Pastor Erick and I have served alongside one another these past 4 years among the plurality of Legacy Christian Fellowship elders. Erick and his wife Yesenia will host the church and he will serve as its pastor/elder as the church continues on within the Legacy Christian Fellowship family of churches and as a member of the Treasuring Christ Together Network. Though it pains us to leave, we’re genuinely delighted to see the church being fully led by native Chicagoans.

What are our future plans?

During the transition, our home in Chicago was surprisingly sold in a matter of 48 hours, and we are now awaiting the nearing closing date on a new home in Huntsville, Alabama just a mere 10 minutes from Elizabeth’s parents. Elizabeth’s health has continued to be up and down, but has fluctuated less often in the midst of relocating (see the longer letter for more details on that).

Our prayerful aim is to take a bit of an extended furlough from pastoral ministry, planting, and counseling to focus on her health as well as growing in relationship with her parents.

Are we still requesting financial support?

Yes, we are still requesting and receiving financial support, but I want to explain how and why. I’ve always wanted to be as clearly transparent as possible with our financial supporters, so I hope to continue that here.

I will no longer be planting churches directly in Chicago. I will not be serving as a donor-supported cross-cultural pastor. However, I will continue to work as Director of Operations for the Treasuring Christ Together Network, which means I’ll be intimately involved in resourcing, connecting, assessing, and coordinating retreats for church planters across the country as I’ve been doing since early 2015.

In this role, I will still be requesting and receiving financial support. My salary at TCTN is divided between a portion which comes from the non-profit’s proceeds and a portion which comes directly from donor gifts. And 100% of my donors’ gifts received at TCT go towards my salary. They are not applied to other administrative functions within the organization.

This being said, it is entirely understandable and anticipated that any of you who have previously supported us as church planters may desire to prayerfully consider whether or not you want to continue doing so.

If you continue to desire to invest in our work, though now it is chiefly aimed at behind-the-scenes church planter care, then glory be to God.

If you instead prefer to invest your funds into planters on the ground instead of our work, then glory be to God.

We praise Him regardless your final conclusions, and are genuinely grateful for all the love, support, and prayer you’ve graciously lavished on us over the years.

How can you pray?

First, know that we are both joyful and sorrowful at the same time. Joyful to see God’s clear hand at work, and also sorrowful to be experiencing the loss of intimate, granite-strong friendships and ministry partners in the inner city.

  • Pray for us to learn the lesson of rest well.
  • Pray for us and our children as we experience the abrupt transition across cultures from the streets of Chicago for over a decade and a half to the countryside of the South.
  • Pray for Legacy Christian Fellowship, both the congregation we gathered and oversaw and the six additional congregations which make up LCF. Pray for the band of brothers and sisters–our co-laboring elders and their wives, our lay leaders and friends–which we’ve left behind. Pray for their “love to abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that they may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11).
  • And praise God with us that He is ever present and faithful to His Church, His Bride, from age to age, and in all contexts.

Because of His Grace,

Craig & Elizabeth Priestley

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