“All of us at CityConnexx are delighted to welcome Rev. John Thexton as our new Executive Director. John comes to us with extensive experience in urban ministry and pastoral counseling. He served with us when we started our urban church and compassionate ministry in Denver, and he has a tremendous heart for the poor as well as a call to bridge the gap between cultures and classes with the call of Christ.
“Cheryl and I have felt called to return to Kenya for some time as fulltime missionaries at Tenwek Hospital where we served 25 years ago and will be leaving in October. I will work with John, the board, and our staff during these months of transition and continue to help CityConnexx by recruiting mission teams. We couldn’t be more excited to turn over this ministry to John. All of us are confident God directly answered our prayers.”
–Rev. Dean Cowles
John will move in August to Denver, CO with his wife and four children. He has been active in ministry for over 25 years, fatefully beginning pastoral ministry with an urban church in an at-risk community in the city he now finds himself living in once again.
His experiences in ministry fueled a passion to connect theology and the human sciences in order to critically reflect on ministerial practices and, therefore, improve them. “It seems that our best theological thinking should be connected to our best human understanding,” he says, “so that we can create and conduct the best ministry possible.”
John completed his Ph.D. in Pastoral Theology and Counseling in August of 2014. His dissertation focused on urban ministry, sociology, psychology and understandings of neighbor-love, and it asked the question, “What does it mean to love your neighbor as one like yourself when your neighbor is very un-like yourself?” Using theological, sociological, and psychological lenses, he concluded that neighbor-love should include at least three steps: intentional collaborative action, deliberate empathy, and the promotion of overall wellbeing. “At the end of the day,” John says, “neighbor-love invites us to enter into increasing levels of mutual relationship with our neighbors in order to decide together what actions promote overall wellbeing.”
John also brings the unique perspective of emergency nursing to CityConnexx. An RN for over 25 years, nursing provided both an income and a rooted-ness while he completed school. “Working with folks in the emergency room brings a whole new appreciation to the challenges people face,” he shares. Traditionally, nurses perceive people as biological, sociological, psychological, and spiritual beings. “It just makes sense to look at people through multiple lenses,” he explains. “We always seem to get in trouble when we reduce people — or situations — to one lens. Nobody likes to be reduced.” John plans to continue in a co-vocational role while at CityConnexx.
Finally, John brings pastoral counseling experience to CityConnexx. Pastors face unique challenges and, for various reasons, often face those challenges in isolation. “I want to provide pastors and urban leaders a safe, confidential space/place where they can change their relationship to problems and challenges in their lives,” he says. John also hopes to train and equip pastors and urban leaders to develop their own baseline counseling confidence. “People will often turn to their pastor before they will go to a counselor. Pastors/urban leaders really can do good baseline counseling if given the right tools.”
John brings practical experience, academic experience, medical experience, counseling experience and a heart for seeing real loving transformation to CityConnexx. CityConnexx gives people an opportunity to make real connections across social boundaries. Short term missions provide a place and space for people to connect with others who are quite unlike themselves. This connection, if done well, can be redemptive and transformative for everyone involved; the key lies in doing it well. If done poorly, the connection can result in unintentional harm for everyone involved. CityConnexx’s goal is to connect people across lines of difference in a way that invites long term transformation.
“No matter where we find ourselves in a world of difference, power, and injustice, we are all in need of transformation,” says John. “CityConnexx provides an avenue for people to cross paths and connect who would otherwise live unconnected lives. If neighbor-love guides these connections, then everyone leaves a little transformed. I believe that these mini-transformations, these small steps toward Christ-likeness, are an evidence of God’s continued transformative work in the world.”