Pastor Fred joined The City Life Church staff in October of 2007. Before that he was on the pastoral staff at Mechanicsville Christian Center for 8 years. He majored in Business Economics at Randolph- Macon and then Spent 5 years in the sponsor services department of an international child sponsorship agency. Pastor Fred spent the next 10 years living in the inner-city of Richmond where he devoted himself to revitalizing a community that suffered from poverty, crime, and despair through both practical service and a message of hope in Jesus Christ. While he did this, he was in a senior management role for an area retailer’s bank. He is married to the love of his life, Vannessa, and they have three beautiful children; Derick, Ethan, and Claire.
Where are some of the places you have lived?
I have lived in Virginia my entire life. Through high school, I lived with my family in a rural community eight miles east of Richmond. I have such fond memories of life with my parents, sister, and brother in the tranquil, picturesque community known as Varina. Forests and fields are a wonderful place for boys in search of adventure! My years in college (’85-’89) were at Randolph-Macon in Ashland where I majored in Business Economics. Like Varina, Ashland is very quaint with a pace of life that is peaceful and contented. After college though, I began to sense God calling me to live in the inner-city of Richmond, quite a contrast from the culture to which I was accustomed. “Recalling Our Own Stories” by Edward P. Wimberly talks about the project of existence, our ultimate sense of purpose. Sitting on a hill one night over looking the City of Richmond, God spoke to me about a well lit room not needing another candle. I knew then that the next season of my life would be dedicated to bringing light to dark places. For the next 10 years, I lived in the inner-city of Richmond where I devoted myself to revitalizing a community that suffered from poverty, crime, and despair through both practical service and a message of hope in Jesus Christ. My most recent experience has been in Mechanicsville where the church from which I am coming is located. In many ways, I feel the last three years in Mechanicsville has been a season of rest for our launch into Newport News, making this city of beginnings a new beginning for my family and life of ministry in devotion to Jesus and His Church.
How did you meet Vannessa?
My mother was working for an attorney in Varina where Vannessa was an intern the summer before her senior year at William and Mary College. She and my sister “suggested” that I meet this wonderful young lady who was so vibrant, full of life, and had a deep, abiding passion for Jesus. We met in July of 1996 and were married in May of 1997. I wake up every day just as excited about our lives together as I did on the day we were married! For the first 7 years of our marriage, we lived in the inner-city of Richmond where we shared the joy of having 3 wonderful children: Derick, Ethan, and Claire. There is no other earthly person we would rather be with than one another. No earthly passion we have is greater than our love for our family. One of our great hopes as pastors at City Life is to help families who may not currently share in such a rich family experience, to find a new passion for one other through a common devotion to Jesus and His plan for living together as a family!
Have you always been in vocational ministry?
Unfortunately, during my high school and college years, my only vocation was a desperate search for the fleeting fulfillment of the pleasures of this world. After college, I put my degree to work through bar tending at an area restaurant, my parents were just thrilled with how I was taking full advantage of their investment in my education! But it was there that God began to speak to me. He asked me a question in a voice that was deeper than one that is audible, it was a voice I heard with the depth of my soul. He asked me if I believed that Jesus is who He claimed to be? Having been raised in the church, I knew that Jesus clearly claimed to be the long awaited Messiah foretold in the Old Testament Scriptures. I could not deny my own personal conviction that I too believed in Jesus, I said, “Yes.” He then asked me that if I believed, why wouldn’t I take the time to just read what He had to say. So, I did. I found a Bible and started reading in the Gospel of John (4th book in the New Testament). When I came to the 10th chapter, I was struck by the realization that Jesus promised a life that is “abundant.” I had been chasing after such a life for many years, only to find what I hoped to be lasting fulfillment fade away time and time again. In December of 1990, just like the stories you read about in the Bible, I answered Jesus’ call, “Come and follow Me.”
My first “real” job was with the Christian Children’s Fund where I spent 5 wonderful years in their Sponsor Services Department. All along, faithfully pouring myself into the church where my family attended, Mechanicsville Christian Center. My career took many turns and was graced by God at every step. Ultimately, I found myself in a senior management role for Circuit City’s bank that supported their in-store financing and credit card portfolios. In the spring of 1999, they approached me with an offer to lead a new division within the bank, an opportunity that would have secured a very comfortable future for my new and growing family. Interestingly, my church, MCC, had announced that they were going to add to their staff a Business Administrator to assume the responsibility of broadening their infrastructure to accommodate their current and future growth. I just kept hearing the words of Jesus, “…store up your treasures in heaven…” In June of 1999, I left my corporate career and began my ministerial journey as a member of the pastoral staff at MCC with a focus on administration. I soon became a credentialed minister with the Assemblies of God and have found my passions to be in teaching, church government, and discipleship. In June of 2007, I celebrated 17 years as a member of MCC and 8 years on staff.
How did The City Life Church come into focus?
Pastor Mike, the founding pastor, put something in my soda one night and when I woke up the next morning, he had this paper I had apparently signed…just kidding! Jesus uses the most wonderful metaphors to help us understand who He wants to be to us. And although some of them escape us at times because of our lack of familiarity with an agrarian lifestyle, His personal identification with being a shepherd is deeply meaningful to me personally. He says that His sheep will know His voice. When Pastors Mike and Heather first started talking with Vannessa and I about joining their ministry team, as you have probably already heard us say, the thought of leaving MCC was inconceivable. But as I am sure you too have found in your life as a devoted follower of Jesus, what begins as being inconceivable, if The Shepherd’s voice is heard, that which was at first unthinkable quickly becomes irresistible. Our family has come to Newport News with great passion and enthusiasm to give ourselves fully to The City Life Church and all those who call this precious church their home. We have every expectation that together with each of you, we will be a supernatural presence in this region that pursues a life that will echo in eternity!