The unforgettable date of September 11 fell on a Sunday in 2016. This made the birth of a new church in Lancaster, Pa., all the more full of hope. Grace Church at Willow Valley (John Smith, lead pastor) dubbed their new church plant in the northeast section of the city “One City Church“… and the congregation has been praying and proclaiming the good news of Jesus ever since.
The five-month-old church is headed by Paster Alec Millen and his family. Pastor Millen has been involved with Willow Valley since 2010 and transitioned into ministry with One City Church. Born in Atlanta, Ga., Pastor Millen first felt God calling him into the ministry in 1993, when he was preparing to graduate from the University of Georgia.
With a growing heart for the city, he did the initial geographic work when Willow Valley first talked about a church plant in Lancaster. As soon as he found a space to meet (renting from a United Methodist Church), Pastor Millen and his leadership team wasted no time in reaching out to the community through Sunday evening services.
Part of the vision for One City Church is for it to be a reflection of the community in which it resides; not just another building. Together with his leadership team of like-minded Christians — some from Willow Valley and others from neighboring congregations– they’re reaching out to all the nooks and crannies of the northeast section of the city. In addition to their Sunday services, they also hold a youth ministry on Thursdays. Currently, more than 20 kids from around the neighborhood attend, most of whom have never heard the gospel of Jesus.
“Our vision is that we would be a clear gospel light in our community,” says Millen. Leaving behind many rooted friendships at Willow Valley, it is heartwarming for Millen to see new and gospel-centered friendships start to flourish in Lancaster, and he is encouraged by the fellowship of the slowly growing congregation of One City Church.
The growth of One City is also largely a family affair for Pastor Millen. His wife, Tammy, is an active part of the leadership team, and their daughters and son help out in the children’s ministry, led by Kevin Medina. Many other volunteers also lend their time to the ministry and outreach of the church.
“I think the biggest lesson has been the need to involve many people in this work,” the pastor said. “And we want our people to be fully engaged in ministry outside of the church.”
Click here to send a note of encouragement to Millen and find out how you can pray.