Whilst being busy as Youth Pastors, of what is now Life Church in Brisbane, Australia, Dave and Jenny watched the Hillsborough Stadium tragedy unfold in Sheffield, England, where almost 100 people lost their lives. It was through this event that they felt called to move from Australia to the North of England to begin a contemporary, vibrant, Christian church that would one day spread out to other cities and nations across the world.
Today, Hope City Church represents over 3000 people across 12 locations and has been the catalyst in the creation of City Hearts that has been involved in the care and rehabilitation of thousands of survivors of modern slavery. Hope City is a part of the C3 family of churches originating from Sydney, Australia.
Dave was actually born in England in Birkenhead, near Liverpool. At the age of five his family moved to Brisbane before moving again to Melbourne and Canberra. He went on to complete a Civil Engineering degree at Sydney University.
In his third year, after spending a lot of time not quite pursuing his studies, he became a Christian after getting to know some ‘born again’ Christians up close and personal. Caught up in a culture of partying hard, he came to a self realisation that deep within him was an emptiness that was in the shape of God and, after much investigation, could only be filled by Jesus alone. After finishing his degree and working in construction management in the outback of Queensland, he attended a small bible training college in Brisbane.
Jenny was born and raised in Australia. Adopted at birth, she was brought up in a Christian home. After her mum was physically healed from a recurring blood disease, they started attending what is now Nexus Church in Brisbane. Her dad passed away when she was 16 and at 18 she attended a one year bible training college attached to the church.
At the end of that year, Jen met Dave and after they were married they moved into a five year apprenticeship as youth pastors at Life Church before being called to the UK.
Dave has written a number of books that reflect on his quirky yet intelligent style of communicating. His heart is to raise up leaders and see people set free from a spirit of perfectionism that causes so many to pull back and live small and secluded lives. These books include, ‘The Hit Factory‘, ‘Jesus Save me from Your Followers’, ‘Sacred Cows Make Great BBQs’ and, ‘Up the Creek without a Paddle’ which is a diary that tracks the first 10 years of pioneering church in a new country.
Jen hosts the annual She Is Women’s conference held in all the nations represented by Hope City. Her personal story of adoption and history behind it has taken her across the world, bringing both freedom and the ‘Father’s heart’ to people caught up by their feelings of both rejection and loss. In 2005 she launched City Hearts for women with life controlling issues. It has now become an independent charity and has helped thousands of survivors of human trafficking and find new freedom and hope through its soft courses and care programmes.
You can find out more about City Hearts here. You can find out more about Dave’s leadership teaching at davegilpin.com