One of the things you will notice rather quickly when you attend Redeemer is that this is a church that actively encourages its congregants to step outside its four walls. It reminds members that we are a church that exists not for itself but for the city — in particular the poor and marginalized.
Each Sunday, the bulletin highlights service opportunities with Hope for New York affiliates — like serving youth and children in the Bronx, the homeless in Manhattan, underserved families in Queens, or recent immigrants in Brooklyn. We live in a city where almost half of the population lives near the poverty line. The needs of our city are great, and from the beginning our church has encouraged congregants to thoughtfully respond to these needs.
Since the beginning, empowering our church to serve
Back in the early nineties, a small group of Redeemer staff and volunteers, led by Yvonne Dodd and inspired by Tim Keller’s teaching on mercy and justice, founded Hope for New York to empower and equip Christians to give to and serve the city. HFNY is a separate 501(c)3 organization dedicated to mobilizing volunteer and financial resources to organizations serving the poor.
At the time, Redeemer congregants were already volunteering at a handful of non-profit organizations in New York City, so our model began by partnering with existing organizations serving the poor. Hope for New York adopted those organizations as “affiliates” and steered congregants to their work with the poor and socially powerless. Over time, as we identified more non-profit organizations that needed helping hands and resources, we began to provide grants and training and consulting to strengthen the work of these organizations.
Operation Exodus, an organization that serves Latino children in Washington Heights, Inwood and the Bronx, was one of our original four affiliate partnerships. Today, over twenty years later, we continue to partner with Operation Exodus as one of our 40+ affiliate partnerships.
I have been a first hand witness to their amazing growth over the past decade, and to the ways that we’ve been able to come alongside Operation Exodus to strengthen their work. We’ve matched professional, dedicated volunteers who have sacrificially given their time and talents, many of whom have become long-term mentors, board members, and donors to the organization. We’ve provided grants and technical assistance to Operation Exodus, which has given them the ability to expand their programs to multiple sites and provide much needed afterschool programs and college bound resources to immigrant families. We are committed to our non-profit partners for the long haul.
Looking forward with hope
As a Christian community, we ought to be known as being the most generous people with our time and finances, especially towards the poor and marginalized. Today, Hope for New York partners with all three Redeemer congregations along with two additional churches. Our volunteers (congregants just like you!) have served over 55,000 hours in the past year. Additionally, because of our donors, including countless Redeemerites, we have distributed over $10 million in grants and capacity building support since our inception nearly 25 years ago.
I often hear from “old-timers” here at Redeemer about how they finally decided to commit to Redeemer’s vision to the city. Many of them tell me that they were deeply impressed with how Redeemer has prioritized serving the poor and marginalized even from the early stages of the church’s formation. Through the sacrificial generosity of these Redeemer supporters and volunteers, there are New Yorkers thriving today who otherwise might not have.
However, there is still much more work to be done. As we look forward, we’re excited about going deeper and wider with our work — partnering with more churches to mobilize more Christian giving and serving in this city, strengthening more local non-profits, and loving more and more of our neighbors.
Twenty-five years ago, Redeemer did more than found Hope for New York. You set in motion an entire movement of mercy and justice where Christians are at the forefront of engaging the city’s poor. I want to invite you to join our movement for the next 25 years, as we work together to build a city in which individuals, families and neighborhoods experience even more spiritual, social and economic flourishing through the demonstration of God’s love.