Meet the Harts
My name is Kenneth Hart and I’m a Harlem native. I was raised on these streets believing that I would one day escape them, and move on to greener pastures. I was a baseball player, and being surrounded by the poverty of my Harlem community pushed me to work even harder on my craft. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, my family was culturally religious, but nothing about my faith shaped me in any way. I went to Rice High School, a historic High School in New York City, known for it’s basketball prowess and talent. I graduated from there, and received a full ride to go out to the Midwest on a baseball scholarship and it was there, alone, isolated, and away from the hustle and bustle of the city that Jesus found me and rescued me.
After I graduated from college, I was invited to a pre-draft workout for the Washington Nationals down in D.C. I went and played some of the best baseball of my life. I was told by the organization that they would draft me, and I waited anxiously with my family two days later as we watched the draft unfold. But there was something different.
I couldn’t shake this feeling that I was ultimately being called by God to something other than a career in professional baseball. I was so close to realizing the dream that I’ve had since I was 5, but it felt as though Jesus was forming a new dream in me. A dream that would ultimately lead me to serving Him and His people for the rest of my life, in a pastoral role in the local church. I couldn’t believe it when I was thinking of it 6 years ago and I still can’t believe it to this day. Ultimately the Nationals to all of our amazement did not draft me, but I wasn’t shocked. I knew why. I might have been “undrafted” as a baseball player, but I was certainly “drafted” as a preacher of the gospel. Jesus drafted me to a higher team, a much more important team, and it was that team that I decided that day to dedicate the rest of my life playing for. After that moment, my wife Shanika, a Brooklyn Native, and I decided to pursue theological education from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I graduated from there in 2014 with an MA in Church Ministries, and I accepted God’s call to be an assistant pastor at Christ Crucified Fellowship in Washington Heights. I’ve been faithfully pastoring at Christ Crucified Fellowship for 3 1/2 years, and now my wife and I feel God’s strong call to plant the gospel in Harlem. Now, all I want to do for Harlem is love the place that I thought that I had to leave. I believe that the beauty of Jesus has to power to change every story, transform every heart, and renew every community. That's my story in a nutshell, just a kid from the hood that came home to do good.