Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Reporter's Notebook: From Dallas to the Rock

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge Eric Patrick left his job and home in Dallas to join a religious movement in the urban core
  • Eric Patrick left his job and home in Dallas to join a religious movement in the urban core

A little over a month ago, Eric Patrick left a comfortable home on five acres and a lucrative consulting job in the Dallas Metroplex to move his wife and kids into a rundown house in Lykins Neighborhood, a rough patch of abandoned homes and crime in Northeast.

He came for the Rock, a new religious organization that is the subject of this week's cover story, "Thank God for the Rock."

Like most transplants from the suburbs to the urban core, the move hasn't been easy. There's the constant vigilance against thieves, the worries about the children, and at least for now, a lack of steady income.

There there are the more mundane aspects of urban life.

"It's an adjustment to pull up to Taco Bell and there's three-foot thick glass," he says.

For Patrick, the move itself was a leap of faith, so to speak, and not something all his friends in Dallas could understand -- especially in this economy.

"We've had people say, 'I don't get it. Is this for a job? Are you going to staff at a church,'" he says. "And I go, 'No. We're moving for community. We're moving to be part of what's going on and the job and everything will take care of itself after that.'"

One of the first thing new arrivals to Kansas City do is find a "house church," which is the Rock's unit of worship. Rather than attend weekly ceremonies in traditional churches, Rock families coalesce into intimate groups and share their problems and triumphs.

But how to pick the right church?

When he first got here, Patrick started sampling the field. He found a pretty wide array of different dynamics. There was the more established church where the older members seemed to fit into certain roles. There was a more leader-driven one, where a man guided the discussion and worship.

Patrick says he's confident he'll know it when he steps into the right church for him.

Meanwhile, house rehab continues.

Have settled in one of Kansas City's rougher neighborhoods, and having previously ministered to strippers and meth-mouth mothers in Dallas, Patrick, like most Rock members, is no stranger to do-it-yourself projects.

Project No. 1: secure his house's three exterior air conditioning units with metal cables and locks -- yet even that is no sure protection.

"It's just a deterrent," he says. "They can still get through if they want, but why go through getting bolt cutters when you can go next door and get the next one?"

Among Rock members like Patrick, a sense of realism prevails. They believe they can reclaim the ghetto for God; they believe they can claim 10 percent of Kansas City's population for Jesus -- in fact, they believe those things are preordained -- but they know it will take several generations and a lot of hard work. So they follow what they consider to be a pretty good example.

"In America, we want the quick bake, the Hamburger Helper, McDonald's, let's get it done," said Rock pastor Ryan Kubicina. "And so we're going, wait a minute. Jesus spent three years -- to the math -- he slept with [his disciples], ate with them, drank with them, worked with them."

That's what's going on in Lykins today: Salvation over time.

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