Momentum Urban Center, formerly Urban Hope Training Center, welcomed a new director, Andy Michael, at their Philadelphia location in the fall of 2020 following the retirement of former director Ed Lewis. Momentum Urban Center is a cooperative ministry of the Charis Fellowship under the organization Momentum Ministry Partners, formerly CE National.
For more than two decades, the Momentum Urban Center has welcomed youth groups and church teams from all over the country. The groups would spend several days in the Philadelphia area, first undergoing training at the center on how to evangelize and second going out into the city for outreach events and ministry opportunities.
New Director Andy Michael moved with his wife Michelle and their three kids, Ezra (6), Zeke (4), Zoe (1), to the Philadelphia area in the fall of 2020. Prior to their move, the Michael family lived in northeastern Ohio where they attended Grace Church of Greater Akron (Jeff Bogue, senior pastor). Andy’s involvement at Grace Church and his connection with Pastor Jeff lead to Andy and Michelle following the Lord’s calling to relocate to Pennsylvania to run Momentum Urban Center.
Andy attended Kent State University in Ohio where he met his wife Michelle, who encouraged him to find a church. Growing up, Andy bounced around between churches but was never truly discipled to embrace the faith for himself. The couple was invited to Grace Church of Greater Akron where they immediately connected with the whole experience. Andy was “confused, but curious and hungry to learn more.” Both Andy and Michelle were baptized at Grace Church in 2011.
Andy participated in the Moody Program, now known as Grace College Akron. Andy was hired at Grace Church to work alongside the sports ministry pastor to build a discipleship-based sports program. Through meeting with the mobilization pastor from Grace Church and starting small ministry groups, he discovered he was passionate about meeting people and sharing the hope of the Gospel with them. Andy said, “I fell in love with whole process while being transformed by Jesus at the same time.”
Having already seen Andy help build a ministry from scratch, Momentum Ministry Partners President Jeff Bogue knew he would be a good fit for the revitalization of Urban Hope. Andy and Michelle began praying about their next move, and they could sense God leading them to Philadelphia. “It got to the point where it was disobedient to say no,” he said.
“I am excited to take the solid foundation that Ed Lewis built and adapt it to meet current cultural needs,” Andy said. The center will be shifting their training to be more focused on the take-home experience by creating team-specific ministry opportunities. Facilities manager Rob Rojas also works as a community liaison and will help the center plan outreaches that not only train the teams in the most effective way but also meet real needs within the Philadelphia area.
Prior to a team’s arrival, the staff at the center will discuss with the group their specific community needs and create experiences that will equip them to take their knowledge home and apply it in their own community. The goal of the center is not to equip a team for any ministry, but rather to equip them for effective ministry within their home church’s context.
Anyone who has visited Momentum Urban Center or heard Ed Lewis speak will be familiar with Ed’s legendary F.I.S.H. acronym. Ed often taught this acronym as an evangelistic tool, teaching believers to (F) be friendly, (I) initiate conversation, (S) share our story or listen to their story, and ultimately (H) offer the hope we have in Jesus.
Andy and the Urban Centers are carrying these same principles into a new model, calling it Care, Share, Challenge. “The idea being we need to Care by spending time with people, Share by intentionally bringing up God in conversation, and Challenge by inviting people to take the next step toward Jesus,” Andy explained.
Currently, Momentum Urban Center is utilizing a slow ministry season to renovate their space and plan for teams in the coming year. Andy and the Momentum Urban Center staff are working to find creative ways to meet needs and provide training during a time when gathering on-site is difficult.
“The goal of the Urban Center is to offer real training and real experiences so teams can have real impact and real partnership when they return home.”
Pray for Andy, Michelle, and their three kids as they search for a permanent home in Philadelphia and continue to get settled into a new ministry. Send Andy an encouraging note here.
This story appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Charis Fellowship, click here.