Moving to New York City with three kids might sound a little foolhardy to some. Not for Greg ’01 and Bethany (Worley) Glidden ’00. The couple said they’d rather appear crazy to the outside world than miss out on what God has in store for them.
Bethany, who majored in history with a social studies certification, was born in upstate New York and grew up in Lancaster, Pa. Greg, who double majored in English and German with teaching certifications for both, was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area. At Messiah, they met during a geography class. Fast-forward to 2014.
That’s when the Gliddens and their three daughters moved to the Bronx, home of 1.4 million people, and made it their mission field. “We are surrounded by a blend of cultures, classes and colors inside one of the most diverse cities anywhere—and they all need Jesus,” said Bethany.
She works full time for Priority 1 Ministries, a Christ-focused, interdenominational ministry, which has partnered with the Agapé Center for Service and Learning at Messiah College since 2007. Messiah student teams who participate in a Priority 1 service trip experience the city in a way that challenges their understanding of systemic issues, such as power, privilege, poverty and education, while receiving in-depth training through service, prayer and reflection.
“Many return to campus with an excitement to bring life and hope to our local Harrisburg community,” said Shardé Hardy, the Agapé Center’s assistant director.
Some Messiah students even return to the Bronx to serve as summer interns.
“God has brought us many interns and countless teams to the city to run Bible clubs, feed the homeless, stock shelves, play with and tutor kids, experience the city, grow their perspectives and—we hope and pray—to become tomorrow’s missionaries,” said Greg, who works with World Vision, a Priority 1 partner. “We want to provide an outlet for teenagers, college students and adults to experience God in this city and see what He has for them here.”
Above all, the Gliddens said that they’ve learned how dependent on God they must be in the Bronx. “From the floor underneath our feet, to the coffee in our cups, to the words in our mouths when we speak with yet another homeless person, to the family we share this cramped apartment with in the center of it all, we continue to depend on God,” said Greg. “So here’s to the next year, and the one after that. And continuing to see more of what God is doing in this city and in us.”
— Jake Miaczynski ’20