I grew up in a normal middle class family with two brothers and a sister. My parents loved and followed Jesus but I drifted away. At the age of 20 I had a traumatic life-altering event when my brother was killed in a car accident. This shook my world. I tried to grab on to all that the world had to offer but it only crumbled beneath me. Through these circumstances, the “Hound of Heaven” cornered me and showed me how much he loved me. From there, the lights came on, the Bible came alive, and my hunger for spiritual things grew immensely. From there I completed a yearlong discipleship school, spent two years with Operation Mobilization in England, and then returned to the U.S. where through a series of events, I served as a pastor in Wisconsin for 11 years. In July of 2015, God called me to Neighborhood Church where I am excited to be in an area that reflects God’s heart for the nations and to be leading an incredible staff and gathering of people who believe that God wants to transform lives, empower them with his Spirit and launch us on mission.
My wife Nami, who is from South Korea, and I have been married for 11 years and have 4 beautiful children.
On a more formal level, I have a B.S. in Biblical Studies from Moody Bible Institute and a Masters degree from Columbia International University.
Craziest Food Ever Eaten: Dog (Don’t ask but he wasn’t your pet)
Favorite Hobby: Being with my family, watching the Green Bay Packers, working out, and pretending that I am still young.
Favorite Vacation Spot: The Beach – Bring on the sun, sea and sand!
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF MINISTRIES
I have been a planner since I was a little girl growing up in the Great State of Kansas. When I was twelve years old, I placed my faith in Jesus, to be my Forgiver and Leader. At that point, I didn't stop having plans for my life, it's just that the plans became what I thought was the Christian version. When I was twenty-two, a number of hard things unfolded in my life that I hadn't planned, and some of the people and the places that had been part of my plan were gone. Jesus met me in a fresh way at that point in my journey, and has walked with me through a career in occupational therapy, a master's degree from Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, New York, years of working in both healthcare and church ministry, and years of full time ministry between Pennsylvania and Maryland. I'm loving this leg of the journey, and being part of a diverse, authentic Biblical community in the thick of what God is doing in Montgomery County.
Craziest Food Ever Eaten: bashimi (raw horsemeat sushi)
Favorite Hobby: a great story in any form (storytelling, reading, movies)
Favorite Vacation Spot: a place I haven't been before (I love exploring new places, especially if they are cultural or historical.)
Worship and Culture Coach
Nikki Lerner is a culture coach, speaker, artist, and author helping individuals and organizations move from monocultural to multicultural. With over 20+ years as a worship leader, ministry practitioner, and leader in the area of multicultural work and life, her passion is to equip others with the inspiration and information needed to move one step closer towards healthy self-leadership and organizational diversity.
Nikki is the host of the Culture Coach Podcast, has authored a new book entitled Life Whispers, and is also the co-author of the book Worship Together: In Your Church As In Heaven. As an artist, her musical works include 3 solo music projects with a 4th slated for release in June 2020. Nikki also leads the Multicultural Worship Leaders Network which equips leaders in faith communities with tools for multicultural work & life.
You can connect with Nikki, hire her for coaching, or work with her by visiting nikkilerner.com.
Craziest food ever eaten: Lychee (from Costa Rica)
Favorite hobby: Yoga
Favorite vacation spot: New Zealand
I grew up in Ohio, learning to love Jesus at Hartwell United Methodist Church. The Lord taught me that only He can meet my every need when my parents divorced for the second time when I was eight years old. As I grew in Jesus, he showed me, through his tender grace, that the greatest joy is found in worshipping Him! I am honored to share that joy with my husband of 18 years, Mark and our three sons. I thank God for bringing us to Neighborhood Church where we continue to be transformed by Jesus, empowered by His Holy Spirit and launched on mission.
Craziest Food Ever Eaten: Fugu - Raw blowfish while visiting Japan
Favorite Hobby: Planning trips and finding new restaurants to experience with my family and friends
Favorite Vacation Spot: Walt Disney World Resorts
I grew up as a pastor's daughter in western New York. After spending the first 22 years of my life in New York, my husband, Eric, and I moved to Charlotte, NC three months after we were married. I had felt God's call to pursue missions for almost my entire life, but while growing into our new lives as a young married couple in a new place, Eric and I felt a mutual call to Bible translation work. Based on our skills, we served with Wycliffe Bible Translators as teachers in Papua New Guinea for a year and half before returning to the US. Shortly after, we relocated to the DC area and began attending Neighborhood Church where we are excited to move deeper as a body of Christ pursuing God's heart through prayer.
Craziest Food Ever Eaten: Jellyfish
Favorite Hobby: Cheering on my sports teams
Favorite Vacation Spot: Queenstown, New Zealand
I grew up in western NY and moved to Charlotte, NC to teach math after graduating from Houghton College. Through a variety of circumstances, I felt God's call to be involved in Bible translation and moved to Papua New Guinea three years later to teach at an international school with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Following this experience, my wife, Joella, and I returned to the US where I transitioned job fields to work as an actuary, which allows me to spend my days immersed in data and Excel files! Besides numbers, I have a passion for pursuing God's presence through prayer and am excited to be involved in the growing prayer ministry at Neighborhood Church.
Craziest Food Ever Eaten: Turtle eggs
Favorite Hobby: Strategy board games
Favorite Vacation Spot: New Zealand
I connected with God when I was a young child and remember going with my grandmother to various churches. My connection with God really developed on a few youth retreats particularly when I was around 10 years old when I accepted Jesus. Through my teenage years, I grew closer to God and I continued to develop my relationship with Him. While my faith in Him never faltered, I drifted away from God through college. After college, I moved to Maryland and lived on my own for the first time and wanted to lead my own life. Despite how far I separated from Him, His presence was a consistent reminder of His love and grace. It took hitting a low point to realize that the plan I made for myself is not what God wanted for me. That wake-up call made me refocus and redirect my life dedicated to God. In 2015 we started attending Neighborhood Church and in 2016, I married my wife Casey.
Craziest Food Ever Eaten: Haggis
Favorite Hobby: Running
Favorite Vacation Spot: Scotland
VISION YOUTH MINISTRY
I grew up in Vermont and was first introduced to the gospel in 8th grade. I was invited by some friends to go to youth group with them Sunday nights. At first, I really enjoyed the music but then found myself listening to the words that were being sung. This led me to open my ears to the messages the pastor gave each week. This all started to peak my curiosity about Christ. It was at the 2004 LIFE youth conference in Phoenix, AZ where God revealed himself to me in a very real way. From that point on, God has been drawing me closer and closer to Himself. After graduating from Nyack College in 2011, I spent time overseas in West Africa serving with the Alliance through soccer ministry. God's calling on my life to work in vocational ministry first began take shape during this year in Guinea. After returning to the U.S., I took a position as Director of Student Ministries at Journey Church in Morganton, NC. In 2014, I moved to Maryland to marry my wife and have had the privilege of joining the staff at Neighborhood Church as Director of Student Ministries.
Craziest Food Ever Eaten: Monkey
Favorite Hobby: Music and sports
Favorite Vacation Spot: Lake Champlain, Vermont
I grew up near the Berkshires in Massachusetts knowing about God and Jesus, but it was not until my senior year in college that some friends in my dorm helped me to understand that God wanted a personal relationship with me where I choose to follow Him. I moved to the DC area to attend graduate school, planning to be here only temporarily, but God made clear to me that He wanted me to stay. My husband Jeff and I were married in 2007 and started attended Neighborhood Church shortly after. God has been using Neighborhood Church to change me, opening my eyes with a more outward focus, challenging me to step out of my comfort zone, and revealing the depth of his grace toward me.
Craziest Food Ever Eaten: Cat food
Favorite Hobby: Hiking & exploring national parks
Favorite Vacation Spot: Alaska
BUILDINGS & GROUNDS MINISTRY
I grew up in upstate New York, learning about God at Glens Falls First Presbyterian Church. When I met my wife, Melanie, I learned that Jesus wanted to have a personal relationship with me. Melanie and I have been married for 18 years and are raising our three sons to know and love Jesus as we continue to grow in Him. I enjoying working in the HVAC industry and helping others in tangible ways through building projects and Scouting. I am thankful to be part of Neighborhood Church as I continue to learn, grow and serve.
Craziest Food Ever Eaten: Jellied Blowfish
Favorite Hobby: Anything involving power tools
Favorite Vacation Spot: Any location with my bride
As a pastor's kid, I grew up going to church with my family. At the age of four, I accepted Christ into my life, but my ongoing journey of sanctification has proven to have much more of an impact on my life. God has consistently revealed himself, his truth, and his love for me throughout my entire life. Christ has used and continues to use my family, friends, and various experiences to shape me into the woman he has created. During my years studying psychology at Nyack College, I began to understand a passion I have of bringing help and support to those around me. In July of 2013, I joined the Neighborhood Church staff as the Administrative Assistant. While I enjoy the organizational aspect of my job, I certainly see the ministry I am called to in this position. I love serving the pastoral staff, congregation, and those in our community!
Craziest Food Ever Eaten: Durian - It's a fruit famous for its horrible odor
Favorite Hobby: Catching up with my family over a good cup of coffee
Favorite Vacation Spot: Long Beach Island, New Jersey