“The word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood.” – John 1:1 (The Message)
On March 4th Redeemer opened its W83rd Ministry Center on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This event represents the culmination of a decision made in 2005 to develop a community center with worship space. The rationale was simple. Not only would having access to space 24/7 enhance our ability to serve the needs of Redeemer’s growing congregation, but it would allow us to ‘move into the neighborhood’ in a more tangible and visible way.
As we prepare to celebrate this amazing new chapter in the life of our community, it is the hope and prayer of the staff and leaders that the entire Redeemer community will experience it as an extension of the incarnation of Jesus. That means a number of things: First, that we will always be prepared to joyfully lay down our lives for one another, our UWS neighbors and our City. Second, with incarnation comes the responsibility and privilege to be not only the hands and feet of Christ, caring for the poor in spirit and poor in capital, but also his voice. When we speak to our neighbors, greeting them, answering their questions, offering our help, I pray that it will be in the spirit of the One who was meek and lowly.
Last, incarnation means vulnerability. If Jesus had stayed safe in heaven we would have been lost. But he came and experienced rejection, betrayal, misunderstanding, and all the ills that human beings can visit on one another so that we could have new lives. If we find ourselves misunderstood or think we are being treated even with a lack of courtesy, consider it a privilege.
Redeemer has been a part of the UWS neighborhood for a long time. Over 2600 of our members and attenders live in the UWS zipcodes of 10023, 10024, and 10025. In 1999 we began worship services on the UWS, and a strong community of faithful congregants have been serving one another and their neighbors for years through Fellowship Groups, Moms Groups, and Hope for New York affiliates, to name a few. So the Redeemer community has been active on the West Side for quite some time.
But with the opening of the W83rd Ministry Center our capacity to serve the neighborhood and one another will be enhanced in new and significant ways. The space will become home to many existing and new ministries. The classroom space and large fellowship hall will allow for more community building and discipleship. The addition of a 4th worship service will open up new space to our friends, co-workers and neighbors who are exploring Christianity. The possibilities are endless. But the mission remains the same.
Redeemer was planted 23 years ago with the core belief that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the renewing power that will one day bring the beauty, hope, grace and justice of God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Through worship, social justice, cultural engagement and deepening community we have sought to make Jesus visible to the City we love. As someone who has been a part of the Redeemer story from the beginning I am incredibly grateful and humbled to be able to play a part in this next chapter.
This building is more than a place where we can gather to worship and learn and connect, but is a place where we can experience the mystery of the gospel and increasingly see ourselves the way God sees us, a community that has “Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone....(who) are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:20,22)