Gardner Gordon is a friend of mine from seminary who planted Coquina Community Church in St. Augustine, Florida, the same year that we planted Coram Deo. For seven years now, we’ve been trading church planting stories, sharing wisdom, and occasionally talking one another off the ledge. Gardner and his wife Frances have consistently invited Leigh and me to come to St. Augustine any time we want to get away. We’re finally taking them up on the offer.
During the initial planting of Coquina, a generous family on the launch team purchased a home in downtown St. Augustine for the church to use. In the church’s early days, 10 Rohde Avenue served as a headquarters for vision meetings, core team gatherings, and even worship services. More recently, it’s been used as the church office and as a general “hospitality center.” And because Coquina is a kingdom-minded church, they’ve allowed dozens of church planters, seminary professors, and ministry teams to use the house as a “crash pad” for retreats and getaways.
This November and December, my family and I are the recipients of that hospitality. For six weeks, we’re shacking up in this 1920’s 2-story in the heart of St. Augustine. The people of Coquina have graciously prepared the home for our arrival. And they’re lending Gardner to me for an hour a week as a sort of Protestant spiritual director – a wise and gracious friend who can serve as a pastor to the pastor.
The kids are homeschooled, so they have the luxury of bringing their school with them. They also get to explore the great historical treasures of America’s oldest city. Fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, the Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles arrived off the eastern coast of Florida on the feast day of St. Augustine, making this city the oldest permanent European settlement on the North American continent. The roots of both European and American history run deep here, and we’re enjoying the historical and cultural heritage.
Our rhythms and lifestyle are simple, with the bulk of each day devoted to solitude, reflection, and spiritual formation. In the mornings, I teach the kids and Leigh gets 4 hours of solitude. In the afternoons, we switch. In the evenings, we eat together, worship as a family, go on walks, read, and play games. You can join us in praying that we’ll come back refreshed, renewed, and ready for whatever God has next.