Haven of Hope
Written by Rev. Rick Perry
“We’re a soul-winning, soul-centered church,” said Pastor Rick Perry of New Haven, Connecticut. “Come experience hope is the motto of Haven of Hope.”
He and his wife Stacey have two children, Alex and Alyssa Perry-Garcia. The Perrys are growing a thriving church through discipleship and empowering the younger generation, engaging children, teens, and young adults into the work of God. “We protect our platform,” said Pastor Perry, “But rather than waiting for years for a new convert to qualify to be used, we try to place them as greeters, etc. in the church.”
Pastor Perry serves as the vice-chair of the Winterfire Conference each year and has served as North American Missions Secretary as well as Assistant Superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church of Botswana. He also serves as Pastor of the Haven of Hope church his father founded in Bedford, Ohio. His father, Rev. H. E. Perry, has modeled transition, serving as Pastor Emeritus there, and is fully retired. His mother, Sis. Beverly Perry, passed away in 2020.
Increasing by Prioritizing
“We’re church planters here in Connecticut,” said Bro. Perry, “So the priorities depend upon where the church is in growth. We had just moved from Africa, bought furniture, got a grill, and began meeting people and inviting them over to eat. My wife and I went to the same coffee shops, restaurants, etc. She volunteered at the Veterans hospital, and I served at the Small Business Council to establish relationships. Along with time in prayer and the Word, our early days here were spent discipling people. In the early days of growing a church, the pastor has to offload responsibilities, such as teaching and training, and be okay with delegating responsibilities if growth is to continue.”
“We started the church in Connecticut through the Metro Missions program. We’ve had quite a few people that found us online, but the majority of our growth has come through personal relationships people had with others. We use Zoom and were online during COVID. We had sold a building and were using a school’s auditorium, classrooms, and gymnasium. We also had the use of the pool for baptisms. Then COVID hit and we spent the better part of 2020 literally homeless as a church.”
Haven of Hope held services in people’s yards and did online services for people who weren’t comfortable with attending in person. The church had an increase, considering the online presence, and they had a considerable increase through their Big Connect Zoom services. Every few weeks, they would all come back together, and Pastor Perry would teach the entire church. Then, they went back into small groups. “We had many more during the midweek service than we did before COVID,” said Pastor Perry. “We’re back in-person and don’t do online services, but people can still connect through Zoom. We have a portable church in a twenty-four-foot trailer, pulled by a truck, set up with a sound system for children’s ministry, etc. We’re looking for a larger space, but due to COVID, the city still isn’t giving permits for public gatherings. Right now, we’re renting an Assembly of God church building in the community through the pastor who is a friend.
The Four Funnels of Vision
The church uses what they refer to as Four Funnels, funneling everything through them. 1) Sunday Morning Celebration is the Sunday worship service. 2) CAM (Community Action Ministries) includes working with the Ronald McDonald House, and the Special Olympics, where their people go in and prepare meals, etc. At the Christian-based 180 Center, they can help with food without financing it since the church doesn’t have a food pantry. The goal is to help the poor and needy but also to be involved in the community and build relationships with those who are already giving. Pastor Perry said, “I’ve found those people in that arena feel better about themselves by helping, and we have what they are looking for to fill that void.” 3) Connect Groups – They can be held in a home, coffee shop, or any place. These groups are not just social groups but are structured with a Bible study. Motorcycle Ministry – The Azusa Street Riders is a Connect Group that reaches into the motorcycle community. Pastor Perry serves as the Regional Chaplain and Coordinator of the local chapter of the Azusa Street Riders. 4) Discipleship – Four modules of discipleship classes are offered, and personal Bible studies are taught and tracked as best as possible.
Departments of the church include the Worship Team, Children’s Ministry, and the Prayer Team led by a Prayer Coordinator. Pastor Perry meets with his leadership team as a group once monthly but stays in communication with them throughout the month. He said, “We do our best to involve people, and we work with the culture we have. We have a time of ministry to the ministry and devotion during that time. It has broken out into a prayer meeting at times.” They have a leadership retreat every year that is held two to three hours away, where Pastor Perry casts the vision for the church. They give a little toward the cost, and the church picks up the rest. The church calendar is set within a short period of time from that retreat.
As for training, there is a website page for those who want to get involved in ministry. There are three different modules they go through with requirements for reading and resources. Pastor uses many of the same books that Ministry Central uses, and if the people go on to become ministers, they do have to go through Ministry Central. He uses the Ministry Flight Plan, a self-study plan with three different levels, and they let him know
when they complete each level. There are various ministry leadership questions and books for them to read as well.
Pastor Perry is adamant about Bible studies and usually begins with Exploring God’s Word or Search for Truth. Their structured discipleship course, Discovery, has sixteen classes of one-and-a-half hours each. The people are encouraged to go through a Bible study and on to the Discovery course. Then they go into the Ministry Flight Plan to be part of ministry at some level. Their Growth Track, where people are encouraged to go through four sessions, has been placed on hold through COVID.
About forty percent of the people at Haven of Hope are involved in some form of ministry, and he promotes involvement by teaching and preaching about it.
Miraculous Healings of Cancer
The church has seen several healings of cancer, including a woman healed of breast cancer and another woman healed of cancer in her lymph nodes. A few weeks ago, a call came from a 92-year-old gentleman with lung cancer. After being prayed for, he went back to the hospital for tests. The doctors said, “We don’t understand, but there is no sign of cancer!
Combatting Stagnation with Strength and Stability
Pastor Perry said, “When it comes to pastoring, I pastor from the pulpit to the pew. I don’t expel my emotional currency or energy by chasing people in their personal lives. I preach the Word, but I’m not involved in every aspect of people’s lives. My job is not to hold their hands through everything in their lives. That type of leadership stagnates growth. I’m a pastor that is 100% okay with not being at the church on a Sunday and letting the church be the church. I need the break, and they need the break.
Pastor Perry enjoys preaching on the Oneness of God, the Almighty God in Christ, the most. Regarding any focus on any certain ethnicity of people, he said, “Our personal ministry outreach is involvement with a local refugee center. My wife speaks Swahili, and we take on high-risk families, most of whom don’t speak English. We teach them how to ride the bus, use their cards, etc. We have had over twenty-five refugees at one time in our church, but many end up leaving and moving to other churches in other states.”
Through COVID and Beyond
Haven of Hope in New Haven, Connecticut. is presently engaged in trying to purchase a property that includes six acres with a church building and a parsonage. Their rate of growth pre-COVID grew by about eleven people per year, with about fifteen conversions per year. During COVID, they lost people who never returned. The congregation is still at about fifty percent attendance post-COVID.
Due to unique circumstances, the Ohio church has become a campus of Haven of Hope in Connecticut that falls underneath Bro. Perry’s leadership. About 60-70% of the people there have returned after COVID. That property is debt-free and has a sanctuary with a full basement, kitchen, and classrooms and sits on over an acre of land
Receiving the Vision and Accepting the Call
Bro. Perry grew up in Bedford, Ohio, and was raised in a church planter’s home. He wanted nothing to do with ministry in his early years, but at age seventeen, he made a promise to a gentleman to go to Bible college. That gentleman was killed two days later. Bro. Perry attended Indiana Bible College for two years and came back to Ohio, where he served as Youth Pastor. He went back to school and was accepted into a radiology program, specializing in nuclear medicine. A fellow Bible college student told him about missionaries starting a school in Botswana, so he volunteered for three months. He came back sixteen years later.
He received the Holy Ghost at age thirteen at Buckeye Lake Campground in Ohio and felt a call to ministry. He also experienced a powerful vision at age thirteen. In the vision, he was on a stage and looked out at a multitude of people of every color, in their traditional clothes. Shaken by the vision, he asked his father about it. His father told him that one day the reason he had seen that would be clear.
Although Bro. Perry attended church and was the church drummer, he was running from God during those years. Years later, in Botswana, he was in love and about to propose. Their church members in Botswana were attending a multi-racial conference in South Africa, and he looked out and saw exactly what he had seen in the vision as a young boy. That’s when he embraced his calling. He was married within a year and was licensed through Foreign Missions.
After attending IBC, he attended Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio. He studied there through distance learning and received a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies with a minor in Psychology through Great Lakes University.
His father, Rev. H. E. Perry, and father-in-law, Rev. Tim Simoneaux, have influenced his ministry the most.
Motorcycles, Cabins, and Woods
Bro. Perry and his wife enjoy riding motorcycles. He enjoys spending time with his family along with their poodle, Max, in the woods with a cabin, as well as adventuring in small towns, hiking, and exploring. He noted with a laugh that people might be surprised to learn that he was very shy as a child. He said his favorite preachers are just too many to mention, and his favorite author is Dr. David Bernard.