How the Singleterrys' life of love and ministry birthed new organizational possibilities
As Servant Partners celebrates 30 years and looks toward Vision 2030, we are highlighting longtime staff members whose years of faithfulness pave the way for the next decade of transformation. Read Andy and Janet Singleterry’s story, and how their calling through student ministry has brought them into organizational leadership in Servant Partners.
One ordinary Tuesday morning, Janet Singleterry woke up to find herself paralyzed from the knees down.
“It was one month before my wedding. I went into emergency surgery, and came out with some—but very little—function. God is good, and I got to walk down the aisle to my husband Andy with the help of friends.”
Janet was on staff with student ministry InterVarsity Christian Fellowship when her injury happened. For seven years, she would take students on annual summer trips to Thailand to experience life in an urban marginalized community. Each time, she’d invite them to consider God’s call to live and serve among the urban poor. In this moment of injury and upheaval, she realized she needed to ask that same question of herself.
“My injury was pushing me to be more rooted in my neighborhood,” she said. “Andy had just joined staff with Servant Partners. Joining would allow me to live out my calling: to be flesh and blood among neighbors, not just for the summer, but for a lifetime.”
Andy Singleterry also felt first called by God to urban ministry through an InterVarsity summer program. After five weeks of tutoring in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, a local family took Andy’s team out for a nice meal to express their gratitude and love. “I remember thinking that these were the people who I defined as ‘the poor,’ yet they were pouring out such lavish hospitality on me,” he recounted. “It broke through my transactional understanding of service, and I realized that a life of love and ministry is worth much more than what can be measured in dollars or minutes.”
Pursuing that life of love and ministry, Andy and Janet settled in San Jose’s Guadalupe-Washington neighborhood in 2010, where they developed a Servant Partners ministry site. They started a bilingual Bible study and hosted their first class of interns in 2011—some of whom started a youth group. Jairo and Lourdes Sarmiento, ministers from Honduras, joined the Servant Partners team in San Jose and began leading a weekly prayer meeting. In 2014, all of this work culminated in the formation of a church plant: Shalom Iglesia del Pacto. Andy also launched San Jose Bridge Communities (SJBC) as an incubator for cross-class friendship and leadership development.
“Leadership development has been the main theme of our site, both through Shalom Iglesia and SJBC, as we find opportunities for neighbors to join us in the ministry,” Andy said.
When the Singleterrys started the San Jose site, they were desperate to have leaders join them. They prayed for several years, feeling discouraged when no one seemed to turn up. Now, 13 years later, they have the largest team in the organization. “This is a testimony of God’s faithfulness, and also a model that could inspire others,” Andy said.
In part, this growth was sustained by their communal pot fund development model, where staff members fundraise into a collective fund that pays for each member’s budgets and salaries. For local leader and East San Jose native Annabel Leyva, this equitable fundraising model paved a pathway to join Servant Partners.
“I have a vision that anyone who feels called to serve the urban poor should have the opportunity to do so, regardless of their financial resources,” Janet said. Janet’s passion led her to serve as the Director of Fund Development for Servant Partners, where she coaches staff and sites in communal fundraising. Through Vision 2030, she helps under-resourced leaders get access to funds, coaching, and funding networks to sustain their ministries.
“I am really excited about building our organizational capacity to help others get started in urban ministry,” she said. “Fundraising is an essential way of supporting people from the very beginning, rather than trying to fix something later.”
Wearing his own organizational “hat,” Andy serves as Editor-in-Chief for Servant Partners Press, which publishes theological reflections, narratives, and training materials about God’s transformation in urban marginalized communities. In 2020, he launched The Mural, a quarterly art publication featuring poetry, photography, prose, and other artwork on themes like beauty, gentrification, immigration, and more. Through SP Press, Janet co-edited Voices Rising, a compilation of stories from women of color in urban ministry.
“Servant Partners has always looked like a very practical, nuts-and-bolts missions organization, but there’s a lot of beauty in what we do,” he said. “We started The Mural as an expression of the beauty of our work and neighborhoods, beyond what’s measurable and practical. It’s a compelling and unique picture of what Servant Partners is and is becoming.”
The Singleterrys remain on the cutting edge of organizational development in Servant Partners. Starting a doctoral program, Andy is imagining how Servant Partners can supplement academic learning by training and sending people into mission. Janet is creating tools to train up other remainers and returners to urban marginalized communities. They are pastors, organizational leaders, parents, and beloved neighbors to many. Across all these roles, Andy and Janet are still living out the calling they received two decades prior—a calling to be flesh and blood among the most vulnerable, and to labor alongside God for transformation.
You can support their organizational capacity-building efforts through Vision 2030, a ten-year strategic effort to build, strengthen, and bridge God’s transformation in urban marginalized communities everywhere. Learn more at www.servantpartners.org/vision2030.