In August of 2021 Ascension was approached by the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders (SAMS) to consider a partnership with Daniel and Rebekah Behrens who hoped to relocate to the northern United States from their ministry with Trinity on the Border in Texas to come alongside refugees and poor immigrants permanently settling in cities. The Behrens have a call to work with refugees and low-income immigrants and felt a pull from the Holy Spirit to live and minister in a city where immigrants are settling for the long-term, rather than come alongside them on the Texas border which is very much a transit point.
The Behrens went through a discernment process with SAMS and have been accepted as candidates for a pilot project in Pittsburgh. They moved to Pittsburgh in December 2021 with the hope that, with Ascension as a partner, they will build out an inland refugee/immigrant ministry program that the entire Anglican Church in North America can learn from. They have the blessing of their sending church, St. Peter’s in Tallahassee, Florida; the Bishop of the Gulf Atlantic where Daniel is canonically resident as an ordained Anglican priest; the Bishop of Pittsburgh; and, of course, Church of the Ascension which will function as their home base.
The first half of 2022 was a time of transition. They had three months of training with SAMS with a focus on support raising and understanding Pittsburgh, particularly where primary immigrant communities are located with the goal of moving into such a community. They began attending Ascension to understand what ministry to our poorer immigrant neighbors already exists. They also focussed on building relationships with program leaders and the Ascension family generally. They also welcomed their third child in June of 2022!
What will the ministry of a ‘Missionary in Residence’ look like? At this early point of ministry formation there are manifold possibilities. Daniel comes with an incarnational vision – life on life with relational bridges being key. His hope and our hope is that he will build out ministry and programming in new and innovative ways, forming a team along the way to complement all the good ministry already happening in Ascension’s international ministry program.