Kevin Cabe grew up in Canton, a town west of Asheville ringed by mountains that lead one to look up.
BSC photo by Mike Creswell
Kevin Cabe, a Canton, N.C., native, admits church planting in New York can be a lonely calling. That is why it’s important to have partnerships like the one with North Carolina Baptists.
Now he’s right in the middle of Manhattan, the heart of New York City, ringed by skyscrapers that also lead one to look up.
Starting in 2015, Cabe is helping hundreds of Baptist volunteers come to the Big Apple to help minister and plant new churches. His ministry sometimes sounds like a traffic cop pointing groups which way to go; at other times he’s an enlistment officer, urging volunteers to pray about possibly serving in New York.
Cabe serves as partnership coordinator with the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association (MNYBA), which is a partner with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
He estimates MNYBA will work with 1,200 to 1,500 people a year coming to New York. Many will lodge in the association’s building on 72nd Street. Some 50 to 60 North Carolina Baptist congregations are partnering with New York, which includes involvement in the annual Coats for the City project.
Coats for the City is an annual partnership project in which N.C. Baptists collect thousands of coats and deliver them to New York, where newly planted churches distribute them to people in their neighborhoods.
The coats help keep New Yorkers warm during the harsh winters there but also help new churches warm up ties to their local communities.
“The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina has been one of the greatest partnerships for New York City,” Cabe said.
“Coats for the City would not happen without North Carolina Baptists. We’re grateful for the role North Carolina has had here in the city.”
Cabe graduated from North Greenville University in Tigerville, S.C., then went to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest for a time. Talking to a church planter inspired the idea of church planting within him.
“Church planting was on my heart, and I felt the Lord was calling me that way,” Cabe said.
He was a member of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Canton, led at that time by Pastor Heath Davis. Cabe returned to Canton and served a year and a half with Pinnacle Church, a new church plant by Davis in town. Then Cabe went on to serve a church in Knoxville, Tenn., for four and a half years.
But it was a missions trip to Poland that eventually got him to New York.
A stopover visit in New York City on the way back sparked an interest in New York. “The Lord grabbed my heart for the city,” as Cabe puts it. That Poland trip was significant in another way: He met his future wife, Kristi; they were married in 2011.
Back in Knoxville, he began to network with New York pastors and began seeking a way to serve in the Big Apple. Kristi was also called to missions, so she did not hesitate to agree to a move.
A 2011 vision trip to New York confirmed New York as their place of service. Endorsed by the North American Mission Board as church planters, the Cabes moved to New York, serving in Brooklyn and Long Island. Part of his ministry centered on helping establish partnerships to help plant churches. He figures he mobilized between 500 and 600 people in the summer in 2015. That led to his position with MNYBA.
“We get lots of calls from churches wanting to serve here,” he said, “and my job is to develop the partnerships.”
Some churches want a one-time experience, and he can help them. But Cabe is really looking for long-term partnerships that can extend for years.
For a helping church, partnering may mean providing prayer support or helping with finances, curriculum or sending short-term volunteers.
Cabe invites churches to send a team to New York on a vision trip. MNYBA has basic, but affordable, housing on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and Cabe or others will escort the visiting team through some of New York City’s greatly varying 400 communities.
“The world is coming here,” Cabe says simply.
“If a church wants to minister to homeless people, those are here in abundance. We also have opportunities for ministry to wealthy people. If a church wants to minister to students, we have more than a million of them,” he said.
Cabe likens the vision trip process to speed dating – helping match a church’s interests and strengths with New York City needs. It is much easier with MNYBA’s help in accommodations, transportation and other logistical concerns.
He urges churches to send decision makers, such as their senior pastor or mission pastor, to New York, which helps speed the partnership process along.
While funding is always helpful because of New York City’s tall expenses, Cabe points out that partnerships can help New York Baptists in many other ways.
“New York City can be lonely, despite its millions of people, if you’re planting churches,” Cabe said. “It’s helpful to have prayer and praise partners to share with. It’s very stressful to live here.”
Getting a church started takes more than a few New York minutes, Cabe observed. Reaching people for Christ in New York depends on establishing relationships with New Yorkers.
For information on partnerships in New York or elsewhere, contact the BSCs Great Commission Partnerships Office or visit ncbaptist.org/gcp.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kevin Cabe will be part of a free luncheon on Nov. 14 for attendees at this year’s Annual Meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in Greensboro. To learn more and register for this or other partnerships informational session during Annual Meeting, visit ncannualmeeting.org/events.)