Over the last twenty-five years, Nick Chilivis has had a front row seat to what God has been doing at The Church of The Apostles. As he reminisces about the church’s story—from his time as a member of the church’s first vestry to the church today—one theme clearly emerges: God has been faithful.
Twenty-five years ago, about thirty adults gathered in a small room at the Waverly Hotel to worship. One month later, the congregation had outgrown the room at the Waverly, so the service was moved to The Lovett School chapel—where the group only filled a couple of rows of pews. The service began with a procession down the aisle of robed acolytes, deacons, Dr. Youssef, and a crucifer carrying the cross. Prayers and the confession were read from The Book of Common Prayer. And when it came time to serve communion, only one or two people were needed to serve the tiny congregation.
“There were just a few of us,” Nick shares. “My wife and I liked to sit down toward the front, and Dr. Youssef would actually call on us. Back then, he would call on people in the congregation to do things in the service. It was very intimate.”
But while much was different twenty-five years ago, much hasn’t changed at all. “Dr. Youssef is the steadiest man of God that I have ever known,” Nick says. And Dr. Youssef’s steady devotion to God, His Word, and the congregation brought more and more people to Him. God’s Kingdom was growing.
A few years later, the thriving congregation outgrew The Lovett School chapel and needed a larger place to worship—one that reflected the goodness and glory of the God who was doing such great things among them. As the chairman of the first land search committee, Nick saw God’s faithfulness firsthand. “Dr. Youssef’s vision was that we’d have a piece of property that was visible in both directions from I-75. We thought that was impossible—we couldn’t find anything.” After a series of hurdles and obstacles that only the God of the impossible could navigate, the current property was purchased. “We had to rezone the property, we had tax battles—all sorts of issues,” Nick recalls. “But God worked all of that out without any problem.”
“God is present in this place,” he continues. “There’s no doubt in my mind whatsoever about that. His presence is not only felt, it’s exhibited. I see Him in Dr. Youssef’s preaching, by what goes on in the service, by the prayers of the congregation members—all of it. You feel God’s presence the second you walk in.”
When asked about the church’s future, Nick can’t help but chuckle: “I know that God will continue to attract people to this church. And the only thing that worries me—in a good sort of way—is if we happen to fill this church up so that we have more people than we can seat. What will we do then? Do we start holding three services? Four? Because we keep growing. But if the past is any indication—and of course it is—I know that God will provide for us. He always has.”