Just as Michael and Tess Langer were starting a church plant in Iowa City, eastern Iowa experienced severe flooding. So, in the summer of 2008 One Ancient Hope began as a relief work to help flood victims by cleaning out and restoring damaged homes. PCA church teams from across the U. S. worked alongside a few local volunteers associated with the new church plant. With One Ancient Hope’s focus on “Seeking the Welfare of the City,” it was a providential beginning.
The church body began to form in August 2008 with a Sunday afternoon Bible study. As more people joined, it outgrew all available homes, and by November it moved north of Iowa City to Preucil School of Music’s Northgate location. Regular Sunday morning services began in August 2009. In November 2010 the church moved to the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center, a more centrally-located building that is easily accessible by foot to university students and the homeless community. The story of One Ancient Hope, then, is about the Lord calling together committed, praying, gifted, hard-working brothers and sisters in Christ to plant a church that strives to meet the needs of its members and the Iowa City community.
As a church planter, Pastor Michael worked with a “session on loan” from the Iowa Presbytery, referred to as the Commission. It included two elders from outside One Ancient Hope— Larry Hoop, a teaching elder, and Tim Hall, a ruling elder. Two members of the church also served on the Commission and met frequently with Pastor Michael—Josh Vahle, RUF pastor to the University of Iowa, and Fred Skiff who came to the church as an ordained PCA elder. In August 2011 Ian Hard came on board as the Assistant Church Planter, along with his wife Rebecca. Then on April 7, 2013 One Ancient Hope particularized and formed its first session when members voted in Cary Covington, Fred Skiff, Josh Super, and Chris Sutton as ruling elders. That day the congregation elected Pastor Michael to the position of Lead Pastor, and Pastor Ian as Associate Pastor. Pastor Michael currently serves as Associate Director of Ministry to State in Washington D.C. with our denomination and Pastor Ian serves as pastor to Christ Church PCA in Pembroke, New Hampshire.
In June of 2016, the congregation welcomed Rev. Didi Wong as their new Pastor. In his first three years, he has been getting to know the beautiful college town of Iowa City and the congregation of One Ancient Hope. In addition, he has been leading the church to work collaboratively in creating a new vision statement and implementing that vision in the community. Click here to learn more about Pastor Didi.
Iowa City is often named one of the best places to live, and with good reason. A community of just over 100,000 people, this strategic Midwestern city has a lot to boast about. Best in the nation schools, excellent health care, and plenty of high paying jobs are just the start. Lots of owner-operated restaurants and shops populate the downtown area. Each summer brings the Iowa Summer of the Arts: featuring the Shakespeare Festival, an Arts Festival, the Iowa City Jazz Festival, the Landlocked International Film Festival, and Uptown Movie and Music nights.
The University of Iowa also affects the culture of the town in many ways. It includes top tier business, law, medical, and dental schools. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is considered to be the best writing program in the country, and one of the best in the world! Iowa City has been designated by the United Nations Council on Education, Science, and Culture as one of a select number “Creative Cities of Literature”. It is also home to the Iowa Hawkeyes, and their first class sports programs.
In short, Iowa City is a great place to live!
In Iowa City, post-Christian thought and progressive ideology meet “American apple-pie” values. Iowa City is a center for progressive thinking and politics that prides itself on its “open and affirming” stance on a variety of social issues. Iowa City is one of the most educated cities in the United States with over 47% of residents holding a Bachelor’s degree, and over 27% holding a graduate degree. Iowa City, in many ways, is the head of the culture-creating stream! And since the gospel speaks to all of life…One Ancient Hope seeks the flourishing of our city through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!
As Christians we find our identity and our understanding of our beliefs in the Bible. We believe that the Scriptures are our loving Father’s means of communicating His will for a full and abundant life to the people that He created, and also His way of expressing His desire to have a relationship with us through His Son Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
We believe there is only One God who has always existed as three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – the Trinity, and that He really did create the world and everything in it.
We believe that His only Son, Jesus, was fully God and fully man, and that he came and lived, and suffered, and died just as the Old Testament had predicted. That He did it all on our behalf, in order to restore our relationship to God that was broken by our own selfishness and pride. That His victory over death was declared when he was raised from the dead on the third day. And that Jesus is the promised One Ancient Hope.
We believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. That we were all created to live forever. And that personal trust and commitment to follow and serve Jesus, and admittance of our own inability to pay the penalty for our sinful actions is needed to secure this promised Ancient Hope. Fortunately for us, the faith required to come to Christ, is a free gift of grace.
We believe that the Holy Spirit is God’s gift to everyone who calls upon the name of Jesus, and He works in us to conform and transform us towards more Christlike character, and to provide assurance of the Hope that is waiting for us…even when things seem hopeless.
We believe that Jesus Christ sits as the head of the Church, and that the Church is made up of all those people from every tongue and tribe and nation around the world who trust in Jesus, and that the Church is a family that God created to weep with those who weep, and laugh with those who laugh – for our mutual encouragement, and for our accountability.
We believe that the world, our culture, and our lives present complex problems; and yet, far too often, the truths of the Bible have been misused, misunderstood, and misapplied to those complex issues – yet the gospel has the answers we seek. As Christians, we hope to bring the peace and hope of the true gospel to all of life, and especially in our home – Iowa City.
We believe that how we live in this world is crucial to the advance of the gospel of Jesus. As Jesus prayed in the garden before his capture and crucifixion, we ask that “God would make us one, even as He and the Son are One, so that the world may know that God loves them, and sent His Son Jesus for them (John 17:21).”
As Presbyterians (PCA), we find our more specific identity in the Westminster Confession of Faith. It is a centuries-old document, written by men who loved God, and sought to bring some specificity to their understanding of the Scriptures.
Didi was born and raised in Hong Kong, where he attended English-speaking, international schools. He was an atheist and antagonistic to religion until age 16, when he became a Christian through his experience at a week-long Christian youth camp. Didi came to the U.S. to attend the University of Maryland (Economics). Two years later after college, sensing a strong calling from God to full-time pastoral ministry, Didi attended Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) Orlando and met his wife of 15 years, Amber, during seminary. They dated long distance for two years in this pre-Facetime/Skype era; somehow, they still made it!
Since graduating from seminary in 2002, Didi has served at churches in Maryland, Colorado, North Carolina, and Hong Kong. He has served in the areas of youth, college, young adults, family, men’s and counseling ministries. Didi’s wide range of experiences has prepared him well to be the Pastor at One Ancient Hope. Amber has a Masters in Counseling from RTS and has consistently practiced as a therapist for the past 14 years. She continues practicing counseling here in Iowa City, where there are many needs.
Amber and Didi have a house full of boys, Elijah (11), Shiloh (9), and Tristan (7). Each of the boys contain some mixture of kindness, craziness, creativity and destruction! Amber and Didi love talking over coffee, going on walks, and watching college sports together. They both grew up in university communities and are passionate about being in the college town of Iowa City, hoping to serve and reach the diverse populations in this City of Literature. Amber and Didi enjoy delving into people’s stories, while sharing the most important story of Jesus Christ!
Matthew rejoined the One Ancient Hope staff in October of 2016, having once served alongside Pastor Michael Langer during the early days of the congregation from 2010-2011. Matthew also serves at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Iowa City as their Director of Music Ministries.
Josh Super has volunteered in leading the worship music at One Ancient Hope since 2013. He officially joined our staff as Worship Coordinator in January of 2018. He is excited to see how God might use him to grow this ministry.
One Ancient Hope is an elder led congregation (we call that group a “session”). In addition to our pastoral staff (known as teaching elders), our ruling elders are nominated and elected by the congregation to shepherd and lead our community.
Cary Covington is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Iowa, studying American politics. In the past, he has served on the boards of Geneva Campus Ministry and Young Life. His wife Cathy is a test developer for Pearson. They have three children and five grandchildren.
Josh Super is a Day Program Coordinator at Systems Unlimited and is the worship leader at One Ancient Hope. His wife Rachel is a Pre-K teacher and middle school Art teacher at Heritage Christian School in North Liberty. The Supers have two daughters and enjoy hosting people for supper, playing games, and gardening.
Chris Sutton and his wife March live in Solon with their four children. March is a librarian who works at the Iowa City Public Library. Chris is a software developer at Microsoft. He grew up in Brazil and enjoys soccer, planting, stories, hiking, hunting and snowshoeing.
Michael Tilley is a science writer and editor at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. His wife Rebekah does social media and communications at the Tippie College of Business. Michael and Rebekah have three boys and one girl, which has led them to be active in the local public schools.
Fred Skiff is a Professor of Physics at University of Iowa specializing in plasma physics. His wife Janet is a poet. Fred’s work has taken them both around the world, including a stint at L’ Abri, and they enjoy getting time with their four adult children.