Join us on Saturday for our Christmas Eve service at 5pm! (No service Christmas Day)

The Cedar Project

The Cedar Project exists to create pathways towards resilience so churches and leaders can bear fruit for years to come.

Learn more

They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age.

-Psalm 92:13-14a (ESV)

The Conditions

Since the early 2000’s, tens of millions of dollars have been spent on starting new evangelical churches in New York City. Denominational efforts such as The SBC North American Mission Board and local efforts like The New York Project have raised tens of millions for new churches in New York. In previous decades, the interest in urban church planting was high, especially in New York, with high optimism towards new movements of urban churches. However, in recent years, interest in urban church planting has declined and social and political turmoil have created suspicion of urban environments, rather than optimism. Churches and denominations have been slower to send pastors to start new churches in these environments, mainly because there have been fewer success stories and more stories of church closures within a few years of planting. These stories often come with pastors and their families experiencing high levels of burnout, fractured marriages, isolation, financial debt, and accounts of moral failures.


With millions spent and millions more raised for church planting in New York, the pipeline for new churches in New York, especially Manhattan, is shrinking rapidly. There are lots of resources towards starting churches, but very few towards sustaining them. As you zoom out of New York into the Northeast, the situation is often more difficult. Many pastors are bi-vocational (by necessity, not strategy), spread thin, and experiencing isolation. The spiritual climate is dark and the resources are scarce.

Political and social turmoil in the 6-8 years have only intensified the problems for pastors and ministry leaders in the Northeast, but at times the experience of isolation, burnout, church closures, and moral failures have been self-inflicted. Many pastors have been trained and formed to know how to start, grow, and lead a church, but they have little formation towards practices of resilience and persevering through suffering. At times, pastors have been as fragile as their neighbors around them.

Our Narrative

In 2016, our church community had an opportunity to take a breath and make some self-assessments. By then, Apostles Church was 11 years old, had multiplied into 3 autonomous churches, had helped plant a handful of churches in the New York area, and had partnered with a number of church plants in the region. But those 11 years had not been easy. The trials left many of the leaders in our three churches in spiritually diminished situations. So our church community, Apostles Uptown, made some commitments towards practices of renewal and resilience, especially among our leaders. In 2017-18, our entire church community began what was called the Cedar Project, based off Psalm 92, using the imagery of the cedar tree, planted in the courts of the Lord, flourishing and bearing fruit even into old age. We didn’t simply want resilient leaders, but a resilient church culture.

Over the last 6-7 years, we’ve seen evidences of God’s work in our community. Especially among our leaders (elders, deacons, and staff), God has sustained our team with unity, energy, and Spirit-led longings towards renewal and revival. We’ve seen an increased commitment to the Body of Christ and a non-anxious presence, despite COVID and political turmoil dynamics pressuring us towards safety schemes and anxiety.


In the last few years, our pastors and staff and have had an increased opportunity to care for pastors and ministry leaders here in New York and the Northeast - from Connecticut, to New York State, to Washington DC. In many ways, our team has been able to provide care for ministry leaders going through seasons of grief, marriage struggles, church fractures, or burnout. It’s important to emphasize that much of this work is not simply coming from the lead pastor, but also from staff and lay elders. This work has rarely been coordinated and the right hand rarely knows the work of the left. Only recently have we begun to recognize what God has been doing and give thanks.

A Sense of Calling

One of the greatest needs for gospel-proclaiming churches in the Northeast is to have pastors and leaders who have the spiritual resources to persevere with joy in ministry in one place for a long time. By God's grace, that's been our story. Among our staff and pastors, many of us have been serving and leading at Apostles for 10+ years. While strategic planning and clarifying vision has been essential, the hallmark of our ministry has simply been a long term presence sustained by the Spirit.

We have seen both greater need and more opportunities to partner with and care for our brothers and sisters here in New York and the greater Northeast area. Many leaders and churches in the Northeast begin with the resources for strategic ministry planning, but far fewer have the resources to sustain that ministry for the long haul.  As our leadership has sensed this calling to be a means of care and renewal for others, we have felt the need (1) to be more intentional and coordinated in our efforts, (2) to have more direction in what we can provide and hope to accomplish, and (3) to be more resourced in our efforts.


Our hope is that we might be a means to bring renewal and revitalization to pastors and spiritual leaders. As a continuation and extension of the Cedar Project that begun in 2017, we want to see an increasing amount of pastors and spiritual leaders have the spiritual capacity to bear fruit, even into old age.

Right now, many pastors are stuck in rhythms of diminishment rather than spiritual resilience, feeling isolated, lonely, and burned out. We want to provide means towards relational connectivity with other brothers and sisters in the work of ministry, a path towards practices of resilience and personal renewal, mentoring and care, opportunities for personal and marriage retreats, and pathways towards healthy patterns of rest.

The Need

There are many challenges to this work, but two stick out. First, many of the churches and leaders are in contexts where a budget for coaching, counseling, retreats, or sabbaticals are outside of their financial capacities. If you factor bi-vocational realities, the financial difficulties become more complex. Second, there are minority-led churches in New York City especially that have need of this material to be culturally translated. We have partnered with Spanish-speaking church communities and there is need for more research in understanding the need and means of care towards more resilient churches. Hispanic churches are some of the fastest growing evangelical churches in the United States, but they are often severely under-resourced. This comes at the cost of the spiritual health of their leaders.

The Ask

Apostles Church Uptown is seeking support from church and ministry partners and individual donors to fund the Cedar Project so that we can both sustain our deeply rooted ministry presence in NYC and better serve under-resourced churches across the Northeast. From now until fall of 2024 we are hoping to raise $120,000 and over the next 5 years, we hope to raise $500,000. Our aim in fundraising is two-fold:

First, we want to sustain our deeply-rooted ministry presence here in NYC.
By God's grace, Apostles has been able to minister here for the last 18 years, with many of our pastors and leaders present for at least the last 10. In a city where church closures are frequent, we want to maintain a gospel presence here for the next 18 years and beyond.

A portion of the Cedar Project funds will go to maintain the normal operations of Apostles Church Uptown as we seek to form whole disciples of Jesus. In an expensive city where seasons of abundance and seasons of scarcity can quickly change the trajectory of a church, we're seeking support to continue this work with greater financial stability.

Second, we want to better serve under-resourced churches in the Northeast. 
We've experienced that resilience is the fruit of a life with God and others characterized by three things:

  1. Nurturing spiritual integrity
  2. Adopting the pace of Jesus
  3. Growing in relational connectivity

Insofar as we’ve experienced the fruit of these pathways, we want to see churches across the Northeast experience the same. Through pastoral cohorts, retreats, and one-on-one spiritual direction, we want to come alongside church leaders and pastors to establish pathways toward resilience. But these kinds of events and efforts take money. Additional funding will allow us to pay for ministry cohorts, retreats, and even create scholarships for pastoral sabbaticals, all while allowing pastors and ministry leaders to participate without taking on a financial burden.


The Cedar Project is a ministry of Apostles Church Uptown in NYC.