Agapé is the name given to meals shared by the earliest Christians often surrounding the Lord's Supper. Those who gathered for these Agapé meals transformed their world by teaching and embodying the good news of Jesus Christ's life, death, and resurrection. What happened at the tables of Agapé meals was more than merely partaking of meals; indeed these meals were a continuation of the revolution begun by the King they celebrated at these tables.
Watch Pastor Jeremiah talk about Agape's Mission, Vision, and Table Values.
Jeremiah and his wife Maysa founded Agape Chicago in collaboration with a group of Rogers Park residents, many of them attending the sending church, Evanston Bible Fellowship. Prior to launching Agape, Jeremiah served in youth ministry, college ministry, and justice ministries. While in seminary at Trinity Divinity School in Deerfield and serving in Evanston, Jeremiah engaged the challenge by pastor Timothy Keller to see more healthy churches planted in urban areas.
In conjunction with strong conviction of the need for more churches in Chicago, while serving many people living in Rogers Park, the Vaughts came to the conclusion God wanted to use them to plant a church for Rogers Park. While getting to know many neighbors in the early years of seeking to start this church, Jeremiah noticed people would constantly throw around the word "love" only to describe their feelings of attraction, and appreciation, but hardly ever to discuss desires to sacrifice and serve to help others. Since love is who God is (1 John 4:6) and love is what Jesus demonstrates best through sacrificial death and victorious service (John 15:13), so Jeremiah remains convinced Rogers Park needs to encounter the God's love more than anything else. We all want to love and be loved, but without seeing and knowing the best love, how can we love like we should? This desire to experience God's love by making it known still drives Jeremiah & Maysa.
Steve Johnson is a native Chicagoan born and raised right here on the Northside. He and Lorre, his wife of 18 years, have both been long-time residents of Rogers Park. After struggling with addiction for several years, the Lord delivered Steve into His service about 25 years ago. Since being called to faith, he and Lorre have dedicated themselves to serving the under-resourced, the under-served and the disconnected through a street ministry and outdoor church in Rogers Park called the Blue Sky Cathedral.
Steve has worked in the title industry for over 40 years and has earned a reputation as a knowledgeable and well-respected title resource for real estate attorneys and mortgage lenders. When he's not working, he and Lorre tend toward reading and relaxing in Jamaica - when the opportunity to do so presents itself. Steve has been with Agape Chicago since it started and was tapped by Pastor Jeremiah to be a member of its first elder board, on which he has served faithfully for the past 3 years. As an elder of Agape Chicago, Steve facilitates the goings-on at the Blue Sky Agape Community which strives to live out the Great Commission by bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to people on the streets of Rogers Park. He also contributes to the pulpit ministry and preaches regularly on Sunday mornings. Pastor Jeremiah and the family of believers at Agape Chicago are appreciative of Steve's contribution to our growth and maturity. We feel that the Name of the Lord has been glorified through his work.
Craig was born in Chicago but grew up in a rural community in southwestern Michigan. After high school, he attended Moody Bible Institute, where he earned a degree in counseling and in the Bible. After his undergraduate days, Craig moved out to southern Colorado and joined an EFCA church, where he served in youth ministry for four years and on the pastoral staff for two years. During this time, he earned his Masters of Divinity from Denver Seminary, and commuted the two hours on a weekly basis, though not daily!
While in Colorado, he met his bride to be, Belicia. And after falling in love and marrying they moved to Illinois and began fellowshipping with Agapé Chicago in 2021. Craig's work as a hospital chaplain moved them back to Chicagoland, and he serves as a chaplain at Advocate Children's Hospital in Park Ridge. As for hobbies, Craig loves reading and writing. He is also a soccer player, and Belicia has also gotten him into tennis. Belicia is originally from Southern California, and yet the cold winters have been endurable because of snowboarding and because the sun still shines often in Chicago during these months. They will be celebrating two years of marriage this month (March 2023)! Craig and Belicia are eager to serve Agapé Chicago.
I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. It was the land of snowstorms and yes I did love the snow! I attended college in my home town to pursue a degree in Nursing. I have enjoyed an amazing career for many years. As I approached 40 years old I had accomplished some goals .I owned my own home., had an advanced practice degree, good friends,family and freedom. However there was something missing that I could not explain until a dear friend invited me to her small church.
It was there that I was introduced to Jesus Christ and His Word. My life would never be the same. I moved to Chicago in 2002 to pursue a Bible Degree. It is the joy of my life to serve the Agape community. I am blessed to mentor women and teach discipleship and Bible studies at Agape. Praise God for His faithfulness to me!
Ralph is a professional screen and stage actor who also serves as the administrative assistant at Agape Chicago Church. Ralph assists the pastor and elders in communications, branding, as well as organizing volunteers in the church. Ralph is an alumni of the Moody Bible Institute and Richard J. Daley College and has been acting on and off for the past 10 years. In his spare time, he likes hanging out and traveling with his friends and spending time at home.
Dennis graduated from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana for both undergrad and graduate school. He spent time as a radio DJ, bank teller, special education teacher and financial advisor. Moving up to Chicago led him to attend and graduate from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School with a Masters of Divinity. Dennis has spent a significant portion of his life in college ministry, but has also served in the Korean church and in several church plants. He is currently living in and loving the city of Chicago, convicted to live missionally. He loves coffee, food, travel, woodworking and art.
A native Hoosier, JenJe moved to Chicago to study at Moody Bible Institute in 2017. She started attending Agape Chicago shortly after. As she fell in love with the people of Agape and the Rogers Park community, it soon became clear that the Lord had brought her to her new church home. Since then, she has graduated with her bachelor's degree and moved to Rogers Park to become more closely involved with Agape's ministry.
As an amateur singer/guitar player/songwriter, JenJe has been grateful for the opportunity to use and grow her creative skills at Agape. After being involved in worship music ministry for 10+ years, she was honored to accept the invitation to become Agape's Music Leader at the beginning of 2023. When not leading music, you can probably find her at Moody, where she works full-time as an Academic Advisor and is also in her final year of studying for her Master of Arts in Biblical Spiritual Formation and Discipleship. In her (limited) spare time, she loves having friends over, knitting cute things, drinking bubble tea, and hanging out with her feline roommate, Indy.
As a member church, we subscribe to the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA), statement of faith.
Our kids groups are divided into two classes, pre-school (2-4) and other age groups (5-11). We know not all children learn the same way so we do our best to teach age-appropriate lessons using hands-on, audio, writing/reading, and visual means of teaching.
Our Service Order reminds us about how God calls people to feast with Him. The invitation to this feast is the Gospel. The Gospel is the proclamation that God the Father commissioned His Son Jesus, uniquely God and man, to live the life we never would and to sacrificially die that we might forever feast on God's love. Because of Jesus' resurrection from the dead, we can be assured that death will not separate us from God's eternal heavenly banquet. Jesus' death is our preparation to be with God. Christ's resurrection from the dead ensures that all are united with Christ will too enjoy a resurrection from the dead making it possible to forever feast with Jesus.
This invitation requires a response. We respond with faith and repentance. We look to Jesus, who prepares us for the feast. Jesus cleanses us and makes us ready for the feast through His pardoning blood. In Christ, we always have access to this feast. We feast as we reminded of the love of God. We feast when we hear God's Word. We leave with a reminder that God's work to invite the world to His feast is shared with us. We leave, prepared to share the invitation.
See all reflections here.
We write this to you to make our joy complete. (1 John 1:4) There are joys that must be shared. We could think of many experiences that are better enjoyed with others: a stunning lunar eclipse, unique ice formations, the breaching of a humpback whale, fourth of July fireworks, or our favorite rock concerts. A feast, also is just too much food when it is only for one person. But when others are gathered around the table, a party ensues and your best dish delights friends, and we are gladdened in their delight. As a witness of the beauty of Christ, John, in similar fashion, cannot remain satisfied to have seen Jesus and leave others in ignorance about That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched (1 John 1:1). Jesus, as the Word of Life, when genuinely encountered cannot remain an isolated personal relationship. Though we do delight in our individual experience and knowledge of Jesus the Messiah, there are some wonders that are just too much for us to take in and appreciate by ourselves-we must share in delight in Jesus' peculiar excellencies: because contentment in a moment of fulfillment becomes discontment when those we love don't share the same love for the Savior of the world. So complete your joy this Advent season and tell the world Come let us adore HIm. We will be dissatisfied with anything less.
Many critical New Testament scholars last century argued that the first Christians believed Jesus would return in their lifetimes. Part of their theory requires believing that Peter could not have written 2 Peter, for embedded in this letter is the acknowledgement that while scoffers question the return of Jesus, believers should understand the Lord is not slow in keeping His promise. (2 Peter 3:9) Immediately before this statement, Peter makes the statement With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. (2 Peter 3:8) Obviously Peter wants the reader to know that just because God seems to be taking time to send Jesus to rescue the church, that doesn't mean our Lord isn't keeping promises. Scholars believe this teaching must have been a later development and certainly wouldn't have been written by Peter, one so confident in seeing Jesus' imminent return. Like many critical theories there is a circularity to their rationale.This is how the argument goes: 1) Since there are teachings in the New Testament to be prepared for Jesus' return, there must have been confidence that Jesus' second coming would happen before many of Jesus' original audience died. 2) As Jesus did not return like expected, later Christians adapted and taught that we need to be ready at all times, like tomorrow or two thousand years from now, like we see in 2 Peter. The problem with this argument is called begging the question, meaning the conclusions supply the rationale for the argument. The faulty belief is that the early Christians couldn't believe both Jesus' return was imminent and that it could happen at any time (these scholars seem to lack experience waiting for internet companies to fix their service). They assume one cannot genuinely believe both Christ can return at any time, tomorrow or a thousand years from now. Therefore teachings like in 2 Peter or even those from Jesus: But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matthew 16:24) are treated by these academics as later additions. As an aside, the belief that this statement of Jesus is a later revision goes uncomfortably with another bad argument from many of the same scholars that Jesus' divinity was also a later invention. For why would Christians after the apostles' time put such words about Jesus' agnosticism regarding His return in the mouth of our Lord, if that makes it appear like he wasn't divine like the Father? The answer is, they wouldn't. Back to our original, the argument I mention are the very sort of thing Peter warns us against. In these last days, that is the time between Jesus' ascension and second coming, there will be those that scoff at our King's return. However complicated (convoluted) the arguments might be, Peter, for it was Peter warned the reader against taking such mockery too seriously. Jesus will return, rest assured.
Agapé Communities are the primary venue in which we seek to intentionally cultivate these three loves. This is why we encourage everyone to get involved in one of these groups. Currently, we have four communities.
During the service, we teach Bible lessons from LifeWay's Gospel Project Curriculum according to ages. We also do activity sheets, crafts, songs, memorization, and games all centered around the lesson for that day. Our class is divided into two classes, pre-school (2-4) and other age groups (5-11).
We know not all children learn the same way so we do our best to teach age-appropriate lessons using hands-on, audio, writing/reading, and visual means of teaching. We use Bible storybooks for the pre-schoolers and complete Bibles for the other children. Our teachers and helpers seek to love and encourage the children to learn the Bible and love Jesus, using positive reinforcement. We believe learning about Jesus should be fun but we take our roles as leaders seriously.. We share the Gospel at least once a month using a variety of age-appropriate means. We view the Children's Ministry as a means of discipleship where kids can develop friendships with one another. All children are welcome to join us.