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Welcoming Richmond

The CHAT Phantoms

Welcoming Our Newest Site to the Servant Partners Movement

Since 2002, Murray Withrow has been serving in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia.  As a student at the University of Richmond, he connected with Church Hill Activities & Tutoring (CHAT), a tutoring and mentorship program that serves the youth of East End Richmond.  After graduating, Murray moved into the neighborhood and invested more deeply into this local ministry.  Murray had always been into basketball, and he used those skills to coach CHAT’s high-school basketball team, the CHAT Phantoms.

In 2015, Murray, his wife Lauren, and their three children began to consider international missionary service.  As they connected with missions organizations, including Servant Partners, they prayerfully discerned that Richmond was still the mission field to which they were called.  Deeply agreeing with the philosophy, vision, and strategies of Servant Partners, they decided to pioneer a new work through Servant Partners in the very neighborhood they have already come to know and love.

Murray will continue in some elements from his previous years of ministry with CHAT.  Coaching and mentoring the young men of the CHAT Phantoms has been a fruitful and meaningful way that Murray has connected with this crucial demographic of young men who, otherwise, are not very accessible.  He and the other coaches challenge these young men to courageously live into their name—the Phantoms—being a physical manifestation of a spiritual reality, God’s Kingdom.

While CHAT is primarily youth focused, Murray and Lauren plan to expand their ministry to include their multigenerational context.  The Withrow home sits directly adjacent to Mosby Court (pictured above), one of the four major public housing communities in Richmond, each containing about 1500 people.  There, Murray and Lauren are working with their home church, East End Fellowship, to discern God’s vision for their ministry in and around Mosby Court.  They have also found great partnership with Kelly, their friend, fellow church member, and previous resident of Mosby Court.

Mosby Court

In this initial year with Servant Partners, Murray and Lauren hope to build connections, listen well, and learn within five key elements of his ministry: overseeing the CHAT Phantoms, exploring house-church plant potential, mentoring the six young men in his discipleship group, connecting with the local school system, and gleaning wisdom from literary and local leadership.  Pioneering a new site requires much thoughtful investigation, sincere connections with the local community, and prayerful discernment of the Lord’s leading; Murray and Lauren are deeply committed to seeking the shalom of this city, and we excitedly welcome this new couple and site as partners in the transforming work of God.

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