West Side church plant launch piloted by Redeemer native
The pastor chosen to be the West Side Site Pastor for the launch of the first daughter church has been a part of Redeemer life, culture, and ministry for a long time. Michael Keller, along with his wife Sara and daughters Lucy (nearly 6) and Kate (4 in January) have attended the Westside congregation for the past seven years, where they have been active in ministry, as well as in starting and establishing a successful college ministry, Reformed University Ministry.
Michael Keller was born in Hopewell, VA, in 1980 and moved to NYC in 1989, with the rest of the Keller family. He grew up on Roosevelt Island with his two brothers (David, now in private equity, and Jonathan, a NYC City Planner) and watched his mother and father plant Redeemer Presbyterian Church. He attended NYC public school for both elementary and middle school, and attended The Stony Brook School for high school.
He graduated from Vanderbilt University with Honors, where he double majored in Psychology and History. Although raised in the middle of a gospel-centered church, Michael traces his actual conversion to the RUF Fellowship on Vanderbilt’s campus, as does his wife, Sara, to whom he became engaged his senior year.
After their marriage, Michael and Sara returned to New York, living in the traditional four-story walk-up with an airshaft view while he worked for New Life church in Queens. He then attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, receiving both an M.Div and a Th.M in Apologetics. Following seminary Michael joined the staff of Citylife Presbyterian Church in Boston and for five years was the Pastor of Community Life.
During that time Sara taught high school at Boston Trinity Academy, and coached girls’ basketball and soccer. She also found time to earn an MA at Harvard University in Education.
Remembering the part that RUF ministry had played in his and Sara’s conversion, Michael returned to New York to pioneer an urban model of RUF campus groups called City Campus Ministry. He has spoken to college students three times a week for the last seven years, honing his apologetic skills, and accompanying the Redeemer team to Oxford University apologetic conferences over the past five years.
Michael is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the Free University of Amsterdam in Computational Linguistics applied to Historical Theology, specifically Jonathan Edwards. Sara has just completed her BSN from Columbia University, and is currently working on her MSN at Columbia in Pediatrics
When asked how the church plant will unfold, Michael answered, “I have been tasked to start a new site of the Westside Redeemer congregation. My weekly duties will be organizing, planning, and executing the launch of this West Side congregation plant, and meeting with congregants and leaders who decide to make this site their new home.”
“I have been around Redeemer my whole life, so it is exciting to be on staff and actually work at Redeemer. The WS congregation has been my home for so many years, it feels completely natural to work for it as well.”
When not busy with ministry, family, and helping friends and family with their IT problems, Michael says, “If you know me, you know I love Jacob’s Pickles, and all the people who work there. I have a hard time motivating myself to exercise, but I love playing pickup soccer and ultimate Frisbee at Riverside Park during the week. I also use my bicycle as my primary mode of transportation around New York, so maybe that counts as exercise.”
He went on to say “I saw with my own eyes that the best way to reach New Yorkers is to plant churches and I’m excited to start this new congregation, both to meet the needs of current Redeemerites better, as well as to mobilize others to serve and care for their city in tangible ways.”
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