CityVillages is really about a company of friends. Some of them share aspects of their life journeys in or away from faith. For others it is a love of friendship and community. Still for others, it is about sharing the delights and curiosities of discovering new places and the new people in far off lands who can give us a push toward richer lives.
The honorary mayor of CityVillages is Phil Oswald. If we had to sum him up, we'd do it with two words: Light bulbs. He lives to flick on light bulbs of discovery, learning, understanding, and faith. His backstory has prepared him well. His beginnings were provincial--almost from another time. He grew up on a farm six miles out of a tiny hamlet in a lonely state in the dead center of the U.S. His undergraduate degree in English was like walking through an old garden gate and into a park. He took a graduate degree in divinity (theology) and joined the staff of churches in Oregon and California before he became the founder and lead pastor of a remarkable church in California where he and his family would spend the next twenty years. The church took on a rare heartbeat. It became finely-tuned to the needs and queries of the unconvinced and unconvinced at the same time through an extensive use of the arts, visiting scholars, leadership development, and small groups pursuing authentic spiritual community.
While there Phil also embraced his avocations of history, travel, and grappling with the Jewish-Christian-Muslim threads of faith in the ancient world. Not only has he visited and studied in the Middle East multiple times, his journeys have taken him to related landing points throughout Turkey, Greece, and the U.K.
Once their boys were out of the house, Phil and Lee Ann took an appointment at a church in Seattle and then off to New Delhi, India where he became the Senior Pastor of the International Church. It is an amazing church where on any Sunday you can find worshippers from thirty or forty different ethnicities and thirty different faith traditions; from ambassadors and the families of diplomats to the managing directors of global companies, international workers, leaders of NGO's, and last, but not least, young but poor scholars from Africa trying to get affordable educations. What made this such a marvelous fit for the Oswalds is that they were able to marry their hearts of shepherding and discipling Christians while also engaging those far from God whose time in India pried them open for new journeys of faith.
The Oswalds returned to the Sacramento area in the middle of 2016. While Lee Ann is investing heavily into the lives of her grandchildren and children, Phil is an adjunct professor at a local university teaching in areas of the New Testament, World Thought and Culture, Establishing Missional Faith Communities, and Apologetics.