Chat with... The Rev. Landor Reesor, lead pastor at Christ Community Church
DARIEN — The Rev. Landon Reesor hails from Atlanta and his Southern accent gives him away, even after living in Fairfield County for nearly 13 years.
Reesor founded Encounter Church in 2005 while he was living in Stamford with his family. After moving to Darien in 2008, Reesor was an active participant in the process that led to the merger between Encounter Church and the Calvary Baptist Church on Oct. 16, 2016.
Q: What brought you all the way up to Connecticut?
A: My wife and I had been working with an organization in Atlanta that was helping churches start new churches all over the world and helping other churches catch that vision.
We ended up sensing that God was putting that plan into our hearts as well, and it became a question of timing and location. When the opportunity opened up to check out the larger area around New York City, we really felt drawn to Stamford, and that’s how we got here in October 2005.
Q: When did you move to Darien?
A: The change to Darien came around 2009, when we moved Encounter Church into Darien.
We began renting space from Calvary Baptist Church. We would rent the morning and the evening on Sundays, two churches in one space. It was a great relationship, we did a lot of wonderful ministry together and retreats and outreach events in the community.
As the two churches grew closer together, it became obvious that the best plan was for the two churches to congregate and consider merging. I was helping Calvary in their pastoral role in addition to my main minister role at Encounter. The two leadership teams decided that it would be best to keep our leadership, but merge the two churches together so that I could continue to lead the two.
Q: How did you start out in the church?
A: I had been in ministry for about 10 years by 2005, and I was with an organization helping churches around the United States and around the world on a vision about starting new churches.
As I was helping other churches on that vision, my wife and I sensed that God was leading us there. While in Atlanta, I was active with Global Focus, and the organization that helped my family get up here was called the North American Mission Board.
Q: You’ve addressed the issue of sexual abuse. How did that begin?
A: A couple of years ago, we had several folks come to me privately and tell me their stories about being survivors of sexual abuse.
The more that we began to look into the statistics about sexual abuse, the more we became convinced this was a real issue in a large percentage of people’s lives within our communities — not just our church, but in our community.
I believe it’s close to one out of two women will be sexually abused throughout their lifetimes, and one out of every five men. Those are huge percentages, and the effect of those sexual abuses are long-lasting. They carry some of that baggage and those scars for the rest of their lives and it shapes their relationships with their future spouses, and it shapes their relationships at work, with people with authority in the workplace or organizational structure.
We realized if we really wanted to help people spiritually, we also had to help in other areas as well. We reached out to the Center for Hope and Renewal in Greenwich, a Christian-based counseling center. This is a passion they had as well, helping people recover from this traumatic experience. Our church and their counseling center partnered up to help provide this recovery group experience called On the Threshold of Hope.
Q: What are some other ways you’ve addressed this issue?
A: Initially when we started it was with Encounter Church and it’s a relationship we have continued at Christ Community. We have branched out and partnered up with the Darien police last year to have a women’s self-defense class. We hope it’s a fruitful relationship for us and the community as well.
Our goal is to offer that self-defense course again this fall. The recovery group will be launching again next month in May.
Q: What are your thoughts on the #MeToo movement?
A: I really think it has helped elevate the conversation and brought it to the forefront, and I think it has opened up society’s eyes to the prevalence of sexual abuse and sexual harassment.
As a husband, as a father with three daughters, this is something that is very meaningful and personal to me. In the self-defense class the goal is to keep them from finding themself in a situation where they could be abused. In the recovery course, it’s about a pathway toward hope and healing, and that’s not easy. This is something that is incredibly important to us as a church and to me, personally.
Q: What is another way you reach out to the community?
A: One of our biggest programs is Vacation Bible School, and it’s a chance for us to reach out to the community and create a one-week camp experience where we can invest in kids and in their families. Parents are best equipped to prepare their kids for life, but a lot of times even as a parent we need outside help and resources.
Our family in the last few years has adopted two special education needs children from China, in February 2014 and in 2015. We began to see a movement of adoptions, and we have several other families who have adopted as well. Adoption is a huge thing for us, as well as the special-needs community. Being a family with two special-needs children, it’s a very underserved portion of society oftentimes.
We’re partnering with an organization in Boston, Waypoint Adventure, and Star Inc. in Norwalk. The goal is to be able to provide some outdoor experience — kayaking — that is typically not available to kids with special needs. This organization in Boston has adaptive equipment and it allows those kids to participate in those experiences.