As a mischievous child growing up in Alphabet City, Pastor Chuck Vedral and his brothers, Billy and Bobby shared a code for letting each other know that the coast was clear: Daddy’s not angry, you can come home.
It might seem strange that The Father’s Heart Ministries’ message was born from childish misbehavior, but for Pastor Chuck, it is one that sums up what God has been doing throughout his life and in the community in which he was raised.
Pastor Chuck grew up in the community and began going to what is now the Father’s Heart Church as a teenager in order to “meet girls.” Instead, he met Jesus, left the gang he’d been leading, and devoted his life to sharing God’s love with people who were often on the margins of society. He flourished under the guidance and mentoring of Pastor Forrest and Faith Dodge and eventually became the pastor of the church when they left to pursue ministry in Colombia in the mid-1960s.
Pastor Chuck inherited and continued the Dodges’ approach to ministry in the neighborhood. In order to meet the community’s spiritual needs, the church first had to meet their practical needs. The Dodges founded a Saturday School as a way to provide childcare for single mothers in the neighborhood. This ministry continued and flourished under Pastor Vedral’s leadership.
In the 1970s, Pastor Chuck and Pastor Carol connected over their shared desire to extend God’s love to people who had often been excluded and overlooked.
Pastors Chuck and Carol Vedral
In the 1970s and 80s, after Pastor Chuck and Pastor Carol were married, the church saw a boom in attendance. Many of the new congregants were recovering from drug addiction and wanted to put their lives back together. In response, the church began to offer ESL, GED, and literacy classes, several job training programs, and outreaches to adults and children infected with AIDS and HIV.
In the late 1990s, along with a group of other New York City-based pastors, Pastors Chuck and Carol sought a way to provide the practical ministry that their churches couldn’t offer on their own. They called this initiative–which the Vedrals founded and ran from their home–The Father’s Heart Ministries to express God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, acceptance, and commitment.
Now in its 25th year, The Father’s Heart Ministries brings together many churches and several organizations and sees an average of 100 volunteers every Saturday morning. Though the neighborhood has seen significant changes, the message of the Father’s Heart still beats loudly: Daddy’s not angry, you can come home.