Staff Stories: Lacy

Mar 24, 2017

Everyone’s story is important, and here at Hill City we want to celebrate people, where they’ve come from, and what they’ve been through. As a church, we challenge our team to share their stories because it helps us relate to and empower others. Our stories represent how a life with Jesus has changed our own passion, purpose, and hope.

These are the stories of our staff.

Lacy is the Director of Guest Services and Environments here at Hill City. She helps lead the team that welcomes you on Sundays, and also runs the creative crew that make our environment look great. She would tell you that she doesn’t have a job title as her duties continue to change as Hill City grows. But don’t let her humility fool you, between staff, she is referred to as “The Glue” that keeps everything running smoothly.

Lacy is a Richmond native, and graduated from Freeman High School. She once dyed her hair bright pink, but has no photos to prove it. Lacy went on to earn her degree in Art Education from VCU in 2003. She married her husband, John, in 2001, and they have since lived in 8 different houses throughout Richmond. She is the mom of 8 year old twins, Max and Neveah, and is expecting a baby in September.

Before starting Hill City, John and Lacy spent 11 years leading High School and College Ministry.

Lacy is an avid cheese lover, enjoys painting, and {endearingly} cries more than anyone else on staff (a total of 3 times during this interview). You’ve probably seen her welcoming visitors on a Sunday, either in the lobby or on stage.

Q: What do you love about working at Hill City?

A: Well, I love people. I love to host people and have more and more people around me. With Guest Services I get to constantly be thinking about how to be more thoughtful towards our guests. We get to create a culture that helps people feel welcomed; that creates an unbelievable experience for someone new. I’ve been crazy proud of this team because I feel like it is positively commented on so often – how welcome people feel here. From the parking lot to the front door, it’s nice to be wanted. Our team does an amazing job at that. What’s cool is that now we’ve grown so much that people who are on the Guest Services team, are people who experienced feeling welcomed as a visitor- it’s why they decided to join.

With the Environments crew, I get to use my creativity by working with the team and helping brainstorm new creative ideas. The feel of the environment around has always felt important to me I want all our spaces, from kids to adults, to be beautiful, spark curiosity, and feel like home. We try to treat our spaces like they are our home and company is coming.

I love to make things better, so I feel that my role is diving into all the different things we do and having a critical eye. Whether it’s the Environment or the Sunday morning service, I like to tweak things.

Q: Who were the biggest influences on your faith growing up?

A: My Mom and Dad. My Mom has been a Christian her whole life, she’s always loved Jesus and been super faithful. My Dad became a Christian while he and my mom were dating, so he experienced life away from Jesus and a life with Jesus, so I think they both bring a unique perspective. I’ve watched them fight through almost anything life can throw at you. My mom has MS and has been sick since I was 8 and I’ve watched my Dad care for her so patiently and faithfully. We also lost my brother in a car accident in 2002. But I’ve watched both of them power through everything. I never had a reason to question my faith or God’s faithfulness because they modeled it so well.

I knew my place in the world because of my family’s strong identity and my own role within our family. I never looked elsewhere for anyone or anything to define me. I’m super grateful for that. My parents are also a lot of fun, so going to church and being a part of a family that loves Jesus was not a bummer. Everyone questions things, I just have never gone through a season of trying to figure things out, or being away from God and having something dramatic pull me back. They ingrained in me a deep faith that’s always known what’s real and true. Truthfully, I have always felt like I had a relationship with Jesus. As I grew older I felt a desire share the love of Jesus and invite friends to church who hadn’t been before, and since have watched God grow that in me.

Q: What were some of the experiences that pushed you and John to start Hill City?

A: A couple of different things. Growing up in church culture I had been blind to the way someone unfamiliar to church might view things. Once we were in campus ministry, we were welcoming in college students that had never been a part of church. I started to see church through their eyes and how it can feel intimidating and unwelcoming.

I remember reading a Bible verse about having a heart for lost people. And when I read that I realized my faith was sort of selfish. I had a good time following Jesus, but I didn’t truly have a heart for the lost, for people who did not know Him. I started praying that God would give me that kind of heart. Sometime later, there was a girl who, begrudgingly, started coming to some of our college ministry nights. She didn’t identify with any type of faith, but soon decided she wanted to follow Jesus. We got coffee and it was the first time I had sat down with someone who had zero knowledge or background in their faith, and she was a super broken, hurting person. She started reading the Bible and we planned to meet and talk about what she had read. The first time we met was so cool for me, because it was like seeing things for the first time again. I asked her what she thought and she kept saying “It’s just so beautiful.” Seeing scripture and Jesus through her eyes was eye-opening to me. I started thinking about how many other people just like her were out there, wanting to learn for the first time.

As John and I went on in campus ministry, we were a part of something where we saw people come to know Jesus, for the first time, in larger quantities. Seeing that just sparked something in me and in us that we had never seen, and it was so exciting. It led us to ask questions like “Why does this not happen in church now?,” and “Could it?” I think that’s what started the initial conversations.

As years passed, I knew we were supposed to start something before John did. I felt like something was brewing in him, and in us. I saw how he was able to communicate with people and the voice he had was unique.

Q: Was there anything that scared you about starting a church?

A: Honestly, I was not super nervous about starting Hill City. I felt so at peace that it was what we were supposed to do and felt very confident that it was what John was meant to do. Even though I wasn’t fearful, I was cautious with what it would mean for our family, and I wanted to take that part really seriously. I needed to know that we had a plan. You hear stories of pastors kids that are a mess or pastors that get burnt out. We promised each other that if we are ever feeling a strain in our relationship or with our kids, or we feel like we live on an island and aren’t allowed to have friends, then we’re out. We’ll stop. God doesn’t want that for a family. I do not worry about that anymore, but it was always on the forefront of my mind to be vigilant and protect that.

Q: What are your future dreams for Hill City?

A: I love to think about the impact we could have on Richmond. John and I went to a conference 7 years ago that was a big turning point in us wanting to start a church. We heard a pastor speak that really got both of us to our core. He was talking about how part of his vision was for his church to be so impactful in their city, that if the church were to leave, the city would grieve. The city he was located in was having major problems with drunkenness and the Mayor called together a group of leaders in the community. As they were talking through how to help, this pastor raised his hand and said that his church would take care of it. Their church had people out every Friday and Saturday night to help get folks home safely. It actually changed a lot in their city.

I think that’s a big dream. We are growing the foundation, but I will be excited to see the impact we could have on Richmond. I would love to see that impact be an undeniable one. Whether people come to Hill City or not, I want Richmond to be a better place because we are here.

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