To The Turn of River Church Administrative Commission,


My name is Jadiel “JD” Müller, my wife Alini Müller and I are the pastors of Connect Community Church in Stamford. We are parents of 3 girls in elementary school, and we are expecting a surprise baby coming this Fall. 

After meeting with Rev. Castillo about Turn Of River Church and its possible future, I felt impressed to share our story with you. This is an extensive version of how we got here, and what God is doing through ConnectCommunity here in Stamford. We took the time to present you with a longer version than we would share if we were meeting in person, just so you can be familiar with our story and know our heart for God and His people.

I believe our connection has happened by Divine Providence, and I want to honor that by giving you a picture of where we are from and how we got here. 


A Little Background:


Alini and I have been married for 20 years. We met in church when we were 8 years old, and we are both Brazilian born. I was raised in Brazil and Alini grew up in the Northeast from the age of 3 with a short period between 3rd and 5th grade when she lived in Brazil. While we grew up in very different contexts, their similarities were sufficiently familiar to be relatable not only in marriage, but in ministry. Brazil has a very diverse culture, with most people having a firm but nominal association to the Catholic Church.

That’s how my grandparents were brought up, until my maternal grandfather attended a church meeting put together by American missionaries in the 1940s. His life was radically changed in that revival meeting. He maintained a connection with those missionaries, and soon after answered the call of God to become a minister. When my dad was a young boy, his whole family came to know Christ through my grandfather’s ministry. That’s how my dad met my mom, and that’s how he too became a local Pastor.

That was the context of my faith and my upbringing. A young man (my grandfather) who was lost and hopeless, abusing substances and living promiscuously, found Christ at 18 years of age. Because of that everything changed; the power of Christ caused him to let go of the destructive addictions and patterns of behavior that had him bound. Thus, he found freedom in Christ, and so did I. I’m the product of a church who invested in missions and cared enough to disciple my grandfather in the faith, and because of that our family was changed forever.

ConnectCommunity stage

The Call to America:


I grew up serving in church. My dad, who was a businessman by trade, planted a local church in our hometown of Joinville, Brazil. There, I learned to pray, follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and minister to the church. Whether it was music, preaching, or leading small groups, I was exposed to all facets of church early on in life. My dad is a great teacher. He was a university professor before becoming a businessman, and was a chairman in our local Bible School.

At the age of 20, while recently married, my wife and I felt called to a new chapter. It happened during a period of fasting and prayer in February of 2003. I woke up in the middle of the night and felt the urge to pray. I knelt down in our tiny apartment’s living room and began to pray and ask God to show us our next season. At that moment I heard a whisper in my spirit: “Houston”. I hadn’t heard much about Houston and had no context of Texas; I barely knew where it was on the map; so we did some research. After lots of conversations and prayers, my wife and I decided to pursue moving there. We asked God for some specific things to happen if we were to make such a move. Everything flowed and the doors opened for our move. Within 4 months we sold all our property and we were on our way to Houston. We landed in the United States on May 14th 2003.

From the time I was a little boy, I felt called to ministry. But after moving to Houston, I wasn’t sure how it was going to happen. For my wife, moving to Houston was moving back home. She missed America. For me, it was less familiar. We left everything and everyone I ever knew to pursue God’s call. But how could I be in ministry when I couldn’t even order a pizza at Pizza Hut? I didn’t speak the language and this my first time moving out of my hometown. For a season, everything came to a halt. I thought Pastoral ministry in my life was over. I thought that maybe, like Abraham, God was calling me to sacrifice my promise and my calling, but this time God hadn’t stopped the ax.

A Time Of Growth:

The first thing we prayed and looked for in Houston was a local church. We decided we were going to connect and serve faithfully in a local church and wait for God to reveal His will. It started slowly, but as we began to get acclimated to the culture and the people, God began to unfold a beautiful (and sometimes painful) process of ministry development. You see, I grew up within a theological framework that was rigid and intense. It was an all or nothing kind of approach to faith. My childhood church made a strong attempt to embrace unchurched people and to be loving to those who are far from God, but the primary emphasis was conduct. That was probably appropriate for me in my youth, since life was more black and white and most of the challenges I had were opportunities to do wrong and engage in unhealthy behavior. But as maturity set in and the challenges grew more complex and profound, rigidity broke apart and gave room to revelation, understanding, and wisdom. Moving to Houston and being part of a local church there cultivated an approach to ministry that challenged the rigidity I was brought up in.

We were challenged to love first. Not to count their sins or shortcomings against them, but to offer salvation and freedom through Christ; to be a witness and not a judge. To love openly and to embrace with generous and genuine hearts. It wasn’t a “ministry strategy” or an “evangelistic tool”, it was a culture of authentically  pursuing Christlikeness. And so we spent close to 11 years in that church, serving faithfully and learning. Eventually we were brought on staff on a pastoral role.


The Call to Connecticut:


In 2011 we became parents, and as in times before, we traveled to Connecticut to visit friends. On that trip, while driving from their house in Danbury down to Westport, we felt a call in our Spirit. We didn’t quite know at that time what it meant, we just felt we were somehow meant to do something for God in this region. So a two-year process of prayer and seeking God’s will started.

At that time we were in a good place in Houston. We had made life-long friends, we were part of a growing ministry, and life was stable. We owned a home, our daughter was only a few months old, and we had no intention of leaving. But when you are prayerfully seeking God’s will, and He is calling you somewhere, your perspective begins to adjust, and vision begins to grow. And so we prayed, sought wise-counsel, and explored possibilities.

In 2012 we took another trip to Connecticut to see if our hearts would connect to any particular area. With our little girl in tow, we drove down again from Danbury to Westport, praying and asking God to show us our mission field. When we got to Westport, we turned on Route 1 and began to drive south. We passed Norwalk, Darien, and then when we drove over i-95 on Exit 9, we saw the Stamford Skyline. That was the moment something came alive in our spirit! I looked at my wife and said: “This is it!

We toured Stamford the rest of the day, and flew back to Houston that week.


After that trip, everything changed. Our prayers became bolder; our vision stronger. We still didn’t know what we were supposed to do, but we knew where we were supposed to be. The Lord began to direct our steps and guide us.

Through one of our pastors at our local church, we were connected to a church planting organization. We hadn’t considered church planting, but through that connection we embarked on a four-part process of training and assessment to determine whether we had what it takes to plant a church. The last part of that process included a full vetting of our finances, marriage, and ministry. God used that connection to give us clarity on our next step: We were to move to Stamford, Connecticut and plant a local church. So in faith, we began the process. We spoke with our leadership and asked for their blessing. They blessed us with prayer, guidance, and finances. We placed our house on the market, which we had just purchased 11-months prior. We were able to sell it within a month for 20% profit, a rare occurrence in 2012. We also started the legal process of establishing a church. Things were moving at a steady pace and we were making progress. But then, as it usually happens, there came our first test.

Later in 2012, a friend at a local and prominent ministry heard we were planning to leave Houston. They were opening a new campus and were searching for a campus pastor. My friend was overseeing the search. We met and talked over lunch, and later visited the campus location and the town where we were to live. It was a great town, great schools for our little daughter, and still within driving distance from Houston. We could visit our family and friends. We thought that perhaps God was presenting us with a good intermediate step. So we prayed. In that season of prayer, two things happened that cemented our move to Connecticut. One evening, my wife was in prayer as she was going through her nightly routine and she felt a prompting from God asking the question: “What is your main reason for taking this position?” The main reason was clear: Job security and familiarity.

Leaving everything would be a great sacrifice. We had done it once before, so we knew what it would take. But now with a little baby and a decade later, the stakes were higher. We were making a decision that would not only affect our lives, but it would affect our daughter’s life. We were going from a place where our friendships were established, our finances were stable, we had a paycheck, health insurance, a favorite restaurant, and a trusty mechanic (those are hard to come by!), and we would be leaving to go to a land where we knew no one. So taking a job as campus pastors one hour north of Houston was attractive. But that simple question made it clear to us that we were not considering our calling or God’s will, we were considering saving our lives, and saving what we had established instead of losing it all for the sake of our Lord. And then, the second thing happened, and it sealed our decision in our hearts.

On December 14th, when the news of the Newtown School shooting shook the world, there was only one question in our hearts: “Why aren’t we there to comfort and embrace the people?”. That’s when we knew. God in His infinite wisdom was calling us to Connecticut, and in His kindness was giving us an out. Were we to take that job and stay nearby, He would still bless us and use us, but we would not have the joy of answering His call to come to Connecticut. And so, in June of 2013, we packed the largest Penske truck we could find, and we took the 3-day journey to Stamford, Connecticut.


The Birth Of ConnectCommunity:


After we found a place to live, we looked for ways to connect with people. The first place I visited was the Stamford Chamber of Commerce. I met a gentleman there who connected me to a lady who was setting up a resource center for women and single mothers in Stamford–an area close to our heart. So we started helping her organization. She connected us to a local priest and a young couple who showed interest in becoming part of our launch team. Our strategy was to gather 30 people to help us launch the church. We went to the New Canaan Society, Toast Masters, coffee shops, and seized any opportunity to meet people and share our story. Our only restraint was toward Christians. Sounds counter-intuitive, but we quickly realized that churches in this area were mostly in survival mode and needed their members engaged. How horrible of us to come and cannibalize local churches for our own ministry ambition! We said no to that, and we were intentional about not approaching Christians who were committed to a church. It was a harder path, but it was the right path.

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We started two small groups for Bible study and community, as well as our launch team meetings. For 18 months we toiled the land, trained the people, and developed connections. Our team was comprised of unchurched people, people who had left the church, two christian couples that felt called by God to help us, and one muslim girl who loved the message of Christ.

On January 25th, 2015, we launched our first service at Rippowam Middle School in Stamford. Seventy-six people showed up, and 5 people made a decision to follow Jesus that day. We kept persisting, through financial scarcity and personal challenges, we persevered. After a few weeks we were averaging 30-50 people a weekend. Small groups were growing, and we were looking for opportunities to serve the community.

Since our launch, we have met in living rooms, school halls, church rooms, backyards, and warehouses. We have worked with several local organizations linking arms to help people in our community, including organizations we partner with each year such as: Inspirica, Person to Person, Lower Fairfield County Food Bank, Malta House, and Filling In The Blanks. We also partner with global organizations that provide aid to places in need. We have been a part of several global efforts, including helping people in Afghanistan during the Taliban take-over, giving water to impoverished villages in the Dominican Republic, and sending aid to the Ukraine.

In that heart and spirit of mutual upbuilding and bringing hope to the world, ConnectCommunity church has grown steadily to an average of 125 people in attendance each Sunday before the Coronavirus Pandemic.

ConnectGROUP Meeting



There were two areas we didn’t anticipate being as challenging as they have been thus far:

  • First, we didn’t anticipate the difficult process of leading a church of unchurched people who do not know the Bible or have any strong Christian foundation. It is exciting and exhilarating to have people who don’t live for God become part of the church, but to develop them, disciple them, and to see them flourish spiritually is not an easy or quick thing. That is why we honor churches like yours that have stood the test of time and still have flourishing systems to help people grow in the faith.


  • Second, we didn’t anticipate for things to be as costly as they are here in the northeast. We certainly researched and did our due diligence before moving, but comparatively, I understand why churches in the south tend to flourish a little quicker. It cannot be denied that infra-structure is a huge part of a church’s ability to minister and have an impact in people’s lives. We were hoping and planning to move to a permanent facility within 5 years. But the cost is so high, and because church is not a cultural norm here, every extra-curricular family activity happens on a Sunday (games, plays, recitals, parties, etc.) So we are all competing with everything else for people’s attention and time. Having services on weekdays as a mobile is not feasible, given that the affordable facilities available in Stamford are schools. And so we are constrained to a 5-hour window each week to minister to people, and because of it our effectiveness becomes dampened and limited.

Turn Of River Connection:


When 2020 started–at the cusp of our 5-year anniversary–we felt led by the Holy Spirit to lead our church to pray for a permanent location. So we began a prayer campaign. but in March, the Coronavirus pandemic reached us and things moved in the opposite direction. We had no place to meet, and no office space, so we took the message to the streets. For most of 2020, we had our film crew record our sermons at specific points of interest in Stamford, and record our worship at a local studio. It was a way to bring the outside to our people, and to connect them to our city. It was useful for a season, and our operational cost as a church went down, since we didn’t have to pay for school facility usage. But we kept praying.

From the beginning of the pandemic to the summer of 2021 there was a lot of movement in our church. We had a significant number of people move away from the Stamford area, and like in other parts of the country, jobs that moved to a “work from home” model encouraged people to move back to live near their families. At the same time, we started to feel the effects of the influx of people moving in from the 5 boroughs of NYC. By late Summer in 2021, we had been displaced from Rippowam Middle School because of school renovations, and found ourselves facing the challenges of not having a home.

One Tuesday in August, I was meeting with a pastor friend in Port Chester who had just moved into their permanent facility. He was giving us some mobile equipment they no longer needed. On my way back, while driving our church truck, I prayed something like this: “Lord, I am so happy for my friend. Thank you for blessing them with a permanent location. I know this is you moving in this region. When will you do it for us Lord? We have been praying and working hard. Will you open the right door for us to have a permanent building?”

When I parked, I noticed had a missed call. It was a call from Reverend Rob Rodriguez explaining that he was overseeing a church that was in transition, and that perhaps we could somehow work together to see it revived. When I heard the voicemail, I almost dropped my phone. He had called the moment I prayed.


When I called him back, he explained the situation in more detail. He let me know that the options were not clear, but he felt in his heart he should give us a call. He was in prayer for his church and their future, and felt led in his heart to look for local churches in Stamford who might be interested in partnering. He didn’t know us, and we didn’t know him. So I asked, “which church in Stamford are you working with?” when he said it was the Turn of River Presbyterian Church, I couldn’t believe it. That was the place where we had our very first outing back in 2016. We held a painting outreach for women in that fellowship hall to help local women in our city. And we had a second women’s event there. One of our Children’s Department leaders grew up at that church. She later disconnected from God and came back after to Christ at ConnectCommunity. Her brother, Andy, lives on site and takes care of the facility. When I told her about my conversation with Pastor Rob, she started crying. She said her other brother, Tommy, who has suffered from ALS for over 30 years now, had a dream that he saw ConnectCommunity worshiping in that building. I couldn’t believe it.

Our Heart:

Having had those conversations, and pondering upon the entire story as one that “zooms out” to observe it from a higher perspective, we couldn’t help but to be overcome with a sense of purpose and responsibility. Who could have orchestrated these conversations? Who could have connected our stories and intertwined us but the Holy Spirit? And what if our small story, of moving here, starting a church, is part of God’s greater plan to honor the legacy of a community that has stood for 160 years. One-hundred and sixty years of prayers, community, laughter, joy, tears, and petitions going to God from this community. What if we are the ones to honor its legacy and see that it remains?

ConnectCommunity is a church committed to Stamford and its people. The vast majority of our members are Stamford residents. My wife and I have ourselves have lived in Stamford on purpose and for a purpose, because we know it is our calling to be in this community. We have a history of 7 years of messages, teachings, and presence in the community. It is all available online and on our podcast. We have done our best to act in integrity and to build an exemplary reputation as a church community that welcomes and loves all people.

We could do so much more for the people of Stamford from the Turn of River facility. It would not only help us strengthen the people of Stamford, but it would also help strengthen ConnectCommunity itself. No doubt the light of Christ would shine brighter and stronger from that facility, and like a city on a hill, we would continue to encourage people toward love, grace, peace, and harmony.

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It is with this heart of service that I approach you today and offer our story. Not to try to impress you with it, but to present it before you as people willing to serve the Lord and to honor the legacy of Turn Of River. We are servants. Looking ever intently to follow God’s plan for this community. Our hearts break when church communities that have shaped this city and this state close their doors. I pray that it may not be the fate of this congregation.

With a heart of honor and in all humility I urge this Commission to not allow the necessary and important fiduciary responsibilities you hold, to overshadow the opportunity for the continuity of this church’s legacy in the heart of Stamford and region. Maybe its current members have run their race, and they have been faithful till the end, but let it not be the end of Turn Of River Church and its legacy. Let’s continue to serve God’s kingdom, and keep our churches, churches. Just like a viable organ in a dying body can be donated to empower and strengthen a younger person lacking that organ, ConnectCommunity would be strengthened by the facilities of this dying church, and their legacy can live on in the life of this new young church.

I pray the Holy Spirit may guide you and lead you, and that we may continue to serve Him in our roles and calling.

We would love the opportunity to meet in person, and talk about ways to move forward.

May God fill you with wisdom, peace, love, and may His richest blessings be over you and your families.

In Christ,

Rev. JD Müller