The journey to founding City of Hope Athens began thirty years ago when Geoff went on his first foreign mission trip. Although he did not realize it at the time, this trip would be the first of twenty mission trips that he and Connie would take over the next three decades. During most of this time, Geoff served as the Administrative Pastor at Grace Fellowship in Oconee County and helped develop and coordinate several ministries at the church. Over the course of the mission trips they participated in and eventually led, God placed the seed of a deep love for the poor within them. This love grew and began to take a specific shape about 10 years ago when they began a relationship with Refuge Jamaica.
As a result of their desire to help the overlooked and less fortunate, Geoff and Connie began looking for ways to serve these people in their own community. Five years ago, Connie developed a team from Grace Fellowship to volunteer at a food bank in the area. Geoff began working with the Northeast Georgia Food Bank to establish a mobile distribution site at the church. They also began to serve meals at one of the homeless shelters in Athens. Then, in 2015, God spoke to them that a “transition” was coming in their lives and ministry. For the next three years, they continued to seek out ways to serve the poor in their community as they waited for God's perfect timing to be realized.
In July of 2018, after eagerly and intensely seeking God’s direction, Geoff and Connie felt God impress upon them both that the time had come for Geoff to retire from fulltime pastoral ministry at Grace Fellowship and step into the next season that He had planned for them. Geoff retired on October 31, 2018 and City of Hope Athens was officially born shortly thereafter. While the facility that God has appointed for City of Hope is being cleaned and prepared, the ministry is operating out of Geoff and Connie's home for these first months. They are excited to see sections of their home piled high with supplies that God is already faithfully providing!