This April marks the 25th anniversary of the first worship service at Redeemer. From its beginning, Redeemer was built on the idea that the gospel changes everything. On April 9, 1989, sixty people met for worship at the Church of the Advent Hope 111 E. 87th Street. On September 24, 1989, Redeemer held its first morning worship service. With those two dates in mind, Redeemer is kicking off its 25th anniversary season this month, which will conclude with a special weekend and worship services Sunday, September 21.
I remember the first Redeemer church service I attended in January 1991. My roommates and I had heard that there was a new church in Manhattan that was “different.” Right away we noticed several things that were unique about Redeemer. We heard the gospel preached in a way we hadn’t heard it presented before, there were hundreds of young professionals in attendance, and there was a quality to the worship that was attractive. It was beautiful and relatable not only to someone who grew up in church but also to someone who was encountering the gospel and church for the first time. From our first visit, my two roommates and I began attending regularly and began inviting our friends, many who didn’t have a personal faith. By 1996 my roommates and I had all become members.
Throughout those early years right until today the gospel is what shapes Redeemer’s vision to transform the city. In 1994 Hope for New York was formed to bring gospel hope and renewal to the city’s poor and marginalized. In 1998, with over three thousand weekly attendees at three services at Hunter College, the church leadership moved away from the mega-church model and began worshipping at new sites to bring the hope of the gospel to more neighborhoods across the city. At the same time the Redeemer Church Planting Center (now Redeemer City to City) was founded and began to plant churches in NYC and other global cities. In 2002 the Center for Faith & Work was started to renew our work and culture in light of the gospel. God has done and continues to do more than anyone asked or expected and we want to give him all the glory for the community and ministries he has brought into existence here in NYC and around the world over the last 25 years.
Looking back and looking ahead to the next 25 years, we thank God for everything he has done in and through Redeemer to renew New York City and other cities around the world. And we pray that through the gospel movement he has started, God will continue to be glorified and work through Redeemer’s ministries and congregations to bring renewal to more people, neighborhoods and cities in the years to come. After every worship service we say “Thanks be to God.” After 25 years we are humbled and inspired to say it again—Thanks be to God!