Couple answers the call at Foursquare Church
New lead pastors hail from Los Angeles
Last updated 1/13/2021 at 1:06pm
Pastors Marcus and Brenda Rabb were quite content with their lives.
The two, born and raised in Los Angeles, were in the second year of leading Impact City LA, their own church plant – one that starts from scratch – in Inglewood, California.
Then the Rabbs received a call from the Northwest District supervisor of Foursquare Church, a global denominational organization.
The call changed their lives.
The supervisor told them of an opening in a church in a city the Rabbs were unfamiliar with – Mukilteo.
"He contacted me in July and told me about a church that he thought was a great opportunity for my wife and I," Marcus Rabb said. "I'd never heard of Mukilteo. I've been to Seattle. We have friends from Seattle."
Following a visit to Mukilteo, and much contemplation, Rabb and his wife made the difficult decision to uproot their family and move to Mukilteo, where the two took over as Mukilteo Foursquare Church's lead pastors Nov. 1.
"The community here has been great," Rabb said. "We're just thankful to be here and excited to get to know the community."
The Rabbs contemplated long and hard before arriving at their decision.
"We talked about it. We prayed," Rabb said. "We came for a visit in August. It was our first time to Mukilteo. We met with Jeff (Dutra, former senior pastor) and some of the staff. We took a tour and had some meetings. We went back home to LA. We felt like it was the right next step for our family.
"It was a decision made very, very cautiously. But we felt like it was right. We didn't rush it. It's a big move. LA is the only place you've ever known. You have to take the kids out of school. We made sure it was the right move."
Ultimately, the decision to move was based on faith and the future.
"Nothing was wrong with LA. We miss LA," Rabb said. "Our parents are there. Our siblings are there. ... We felt like God is calling us to come and serve this community."
The Rabbs have three children – 17, 13, and 8 – with another on the way. Marcus and Brenda met during their junior year of high school. They were married in 2005, the same year they started in the ministry.
An obvious and important issue – race – was raised and directly addressed by the Rabbs and church representatives.
Rabb is Black, and his wife is of Mexican heritage. Like many churches, Mukilteo Foursquare is largely White and skews older. Rabb describes the issue as the elephant in the room when he and church officials sat down and talked.
"They wanted diversity. They wanted inclusion. They wanted representation," Rabb said. "It's a question I asked. Were they ready for a Black pastor? They said yes. They were ready for it.
"Too often, evangelical churches have done a disservice to minorities by telling them that to be a Christian they have to in a sense leave their ethnicity behind – that the way they express themselves through their style of dress or in worship has to fit their church style," Rabb said.
"But that is not so. To be a part of Jesus' family, by becoming a Christian, does not mean denying one's ethnicity or cultural background. He created all ethnicities. I can only be a Black man. So, to reach more minorities, we the church have to do a better job of showing all people that who they are is enough. To have a relationship with Jesus Christ doesn't mean I abandon that. To reach minorities in 2020, you have to show them they fit into this plan."
The Rabbs are well aware that they are coming into a different environment from the one they left in Los Angeles. The latest census numbers indicate that the city of Mukilteo is 72.5% White, 18.2% Asian, 5.8% Hispanic and 1.4% Black. Hispanics make up 48.7% of Los Angeles' population. Whites comprise about 28.4%, Asians 11.5%, and Blacks 8.6%.
Their background and their work with diverse groups likely was a major reason Mukilteo Foursquare were drawn to the Rabbs, both 37.
"We are an interracial couple with biracial children. They saw an opportunity for diversity. They saw our youth. We are the youngest people in the (Mukilteo) church. We are a young family. We attract other young families."
Impact City LA embodies many of the qualities the Rabbs hope to bring to Mukilteo Foursquare. Their church was both multicultural and multigenerational, Rabb said.
"We reach people in the community that haven't been reached before," Rabb said.
Mukilteo might not have the same racial makeup as Los Angeles, but Rabb noted there is diversity in Mukilteo.
Mukilteo Foursquare's Spanish service draws large numbers.
"We say one church, two expressions," Rabb said.
Rabb acknowledges he sees a lot of pain and stress throughout the nation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The church needs to do its part to help people through these difficult times.
"We want to continue our mission to serve people, being an extension of Jesus," Rabb said. "People are hurting. The pandemic is going on. The economy is not doing so hot. Kids are struggling with mental health. They are socially isolated. People's marriages are falling. There's a rise in divorce.
"We are called here to be a light, to help those people with those types of issues. We're not experts on anything. We consider ourselves to be servants. We want to serve the city."