Inside this issue:

This city will never be the same after that infamous day last September. Fortunately, 12 years earlier, God led His people with a vision for New York to begin an extraordinary venture — a church for the city — that was ready when disaster struck.

MNA:  Reaching North America with the Gospel...
to Reach the World

Summer 2002


Blessed to Be a Blessing 
in Times Like These



On the sidewalk outside Trinity Church near the towers, visitors created a makeshift memorial.

They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.  
Isaiah 62:12
 

When the planes struck the World Trade Center (WTC) on the morning of September 11, Manir Buitrago was at work as usual at the Coffee Station in the mall beneath the towers. Fortunately, he and countless others were able to escape unharmed before tons of concrete came crashing down.

Manir was overjoyed to have survived the terrible disaster, but several weeks later without a job and only meager unemployment checks, this young native of Columbia was struggling to support himself, his wife, and their son. When he heard that Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan was providing assistance to people affected by the attacks, he contacted the church. Manir was one of more than a thousand who received tangible support through Redeemer Presbyterian after September 11.

“Through God’s providence,” says Redeemer’s executive pastor Terry Gyger, “our church was able to respond efficiently and effectively at a moment’s notice because we already had five vehicles of ministry in place ready to mobilize.”

Those five ministries are the Diaconate, Hope for New York, the Urban Church Planting Center, fellowship groups, and the Counseling Center. The Diaconate provides training and directs the work of members who give their time to help individuals and families. Hope for New York donates funds and coordinates volunteers for more than 30 different service agencies in the metro area — from the Bowery Mission to Arukah Medical Ministry. Last year, some 2,000 of Redeemer’s congregation volunteered their time with these agencies.

Even though these ministries employ 23 full-time staff, Redeemer hired 13 additional people after the World Trade Center disaster to help manage the demand. Scores of people from the congregation volunteered their time — handing out Bibles, praying with workers near the site, and visiting firehouses with food, flowers, and encouragement.

Through Redeemer’s network of fellowship groups (approximately 130 are scattered throughout the metro area), the church was able to spread the word about its mercy ministries and to discover needs. The Urban Church Planting Center and Metro New York Presbytery, which partner with churches throughout the area, were also channels for identifying needs and distributing assistance. Later in the fall, Redeemer began providing grants to other churches so they could deliver assistance directly. In addition, the center set up satellite locations for dispensing relief at other churches.

Astoria Community Church, a Redeemer church plant in an ethnically diverse neighborhood of 200,000 in Queens, was one of those locations. From its storefront offices, the church interviewed and counseled individuals, and has been giving aid to many residents who faced economic difficulties.

Under the leadership of church planters David Ellis and Darcy Caires, this young church leads English language services for a multicultural congregation, but is working to develop a small group ministry representing different languages. “I’m so grateful to God for the people of our church,” David comments, “and their love for this neighborhood of Hispanics, African Americans, Anglos, Brazilians, Asians, and European immigrants.”

Darcy, a native of Brazil who has worked with immigrants for several years, is interested in reaching not only his own ethnic group, but people from other countries as well. “We want to create a real sense of community in this church,” he says, “to offer a place where all kinds of New Yorkers feel the love of God and receive joy, mercy, and friendship.”

The first action taken by Redeemer Presbyterian of New Jersey after the planes crashed into the World Trade Center was to account for their own. “About 20 percent of our members worked in the towers or in the vicinity,” explains church planter Claude Hubbard. The church’s network of 15 fellowship groups made it possible to take a quick tally and to discover there were no casualties among the congregation.

That evening, Claude, along with Jim Om, who partners with Claude in planting the church, called the groups together for prayer and comfort, and also to discuss how the church could serve the needs created by the tragedy. As an encouragement and a witness to the community, the church led a “prayer meeting and more” on the two Saturdays following in Hoboken’s Frank Sinatra Park. Each of these sessions attracted more than 200 people.

Based in two locations — Hoboken and Teaneck — Redeemer of New Jersey grew out of fellowship groups initiated at Redeemer New York. Claude and Jim started the church in 1999, dividing their time equally between the two locations. Ultimately, it will become two churches which will plant five more in the next five years.



Susan Keil, left, a church staff member who coordinates the WTC Diaconate relief at Redeemer, met with Manir Buitrago, right, when he contacted the church for financial assistance. Following that encounter, Manir visited Emmanuel Presbyterian, a church plant of Redeemer in Morningside Heights, which is near his home, the same church that Susan attends. Since the disaster, Redeemer has been able to extend Christian love to a huge number of people through financial assistance, counseling, and comfort. Efforts such as these are invaluable in drawing people to churches around the city and to receive Christ.

Tim Keller, senior pastor at Redeemer New York, started the church in 1989 “to serve the community and to ignite a church planting movement.” Commenting on the World Trade Center tragedy, he says, “God prepared Redeemer for a time like this.”


Nino’s Restaurant served 500,000 free meals between September 13 and February 12 to fire fighters, police, and relief workers involved with the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. The operation was supported by restaurant owner Antonio Nino Vendome, the local community, and widespread donations of money and food, as well as more than 10,000 volunteers. Redeemer Presbyterian was instrumental in bringing a donation to Nino’s from Food for the Hungry, whose CEO is PCA ruling elder Ben Homan, a fact that illustrates the church’s effectiveness in working through other organizations to express mercy.


Church planters Jim Om, center, and Claude Hubbard, far right, partnered to begin Redeemer Presbyterian of New Jersey and are dedicated to church multiplication. They’ve already planted a church in Montclair and have a thriving network of wide-ranging fellowship groups.


Redeemer's executive pastor Terry Gyger, right, and Osni Ferreira, director of the Urban Church Planting Center, work together in planning new churches in NYC neighborhoods.  "Our vision," says Osni, "is to plant churches for multiple cultures and take the Gospel to all the nations of America."


Church planters Darcy Caires, left, and David Ellis are leading Astoria Community Church in Queens and reaching diverse ethnic groups, mostly working class people. Worship services are held in a neighborhood synagogue. “We were dreaming of starting a mercy ministry,” reports Darcy, “then, the World Trade Center disaster happened and we had the opportunity to assist Redeemer in dispensing aid. We want to be a church that’s changing the city.”

 

 

 

 

ButtonBacktoTop.jpg (3233 bytes)

Across the city, PCA churches are serving their communities, ministering to a mixed population, and making a difference in a multitude of lives.


Emmanuel Presbyterian meets in the cathedral-like James Chapel of Union Theological Seminary. Church planter Charlie Drew, formerly at Redeemer New York, says the church is focused on the nurturing of believers.


Left to right, Emmanuel staff Melissa Locher, Rosemary McCullough, Charlie, and Tim Hia.


Jeff White, left, the first pastor to join Tim Keller at Redeemer, started Harlem’s New Song Community Church in 1998 to serve a ten-block area. “We're thrilled with what God has done in three years,” he says.  With Jeff is Johnny Acevedo, a pastoral team member at New Song.


Randy Lovelace (in the blue jacket) moved to Montclair, NJ, a year ago to start a daughter church of Redeemer Presbyterian of New Jersey, the first granddaughter of Redeemer New York, which has contributed several elders to this new congregation. Montclair, just 12 miles from Manhattan, is a strategic community for the Redeemer church planting movement, because of its diversity and cultural influence.


Committed to Christian community development, New Song in Harlem purchased an abandoned building which is under renovation. The structure already provides facilities for worship and by year-end will also house apartments and a restaurant.

 

Only hours after the World Trade Center attack, Emmanuel Presbyterian pastor Charlie Drew sent an email message to his entire database, inviting them to join him on the steps of Low Memorial Library on the Columbia University campus that evening. Emmanuel, a church plant of Manhattan’s Redeemer Presbyterian, has a congregation with a majority of students and young professionals — many of whom knew people who worked at the World Trade Center.

Some 150 congregated with Charlie early Tuesday evening to pray and sing, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” He gave a message of hope, encouraging the group “to exalt Jesus while the nations rage,” and discussed where people could get help, as well as how they could serve.

Charlie is excited about the prospects of serving a church of mixed incomes and cultures and about providing a sense of community in the city. Worship is held in Morningside Heights at Union Theological Seminary, midway between Columbia, International House, and low-income housing. Currently, the congregation of about 130 is made up largely of Asian Americans and Anglos, with a smaller mix of African Americans, Hispanics, and internationals from several different countries.

Only a few blocks away, in Central Harlem, is New Song Community Church, another church plant in which Redeemer New York has played a crucial role — this one started by Jeff White in 1998. A neighborhood oriented church, New Song believes that the Bible calls Christians not only to proclaim the Gospel, but also to seek justice and joy in their communities in tangible ways.

Working with Jeff is Mark Gornik, founding pastor of New Song in Baltimore, MD. In Harlem, they have employed the same approaches developed by Mark in Baltimore which, Jeff says, have given the church a strong launch.

“We have also been blessed,” Jeff points out, “with generous support from Redeemer New York — not only with financial means, but also with the input of accountants, lawyers, architects, and graphic designers who have committed their time to help us.”

New Song Harlem is in the process of renovating a four-story building that was abandoned 30 years ago. Already in use for worship and for an after-school program, it will eventually contain apartments for low-income residents and a restaurant, which the church will operate through a separate community development corporation.

Today, more than a dozen years since Tim Keller, senior pastor and church planter of Redeemer Presbyterian, moved to New York to begin laying groundwork, the church has a congregation of about 3,700 people, conducts four worship services each Sunday, and has planted 13 other churches in the metro area. The goal is to plant a total of 100 new churches by 2012, 60 percent of them in metro New York.

Redeemer’s deeds of mercy in connection with the horrific World Trade Center attacks are completely consistent with its founding vision. Earlier this year in a covenant renewal service for the congregation, Tim reiterated: “We came here to be a church not only for ourselves, but for our friends who do not yet believe, for the peace and benefit of the city, and to ignite a church planting movement. We continue to embrace that same vision today.”

Tim and others who joined with him to plant this church shared a belief that the city is a great place to minister and, over the years, have maintained a willingness to give themselves away to other neighborhoods. In the beginning, these dedicated believers came to plant a church. In only a few years, the Lord has blessed in planting a presbytery that has grown to become a thriving multiplying movement.

 

 

ButtonBacktoTop.jpg (3233 bytes)

Gospel in Uniform

“I was in prison and you came to visit me.” These words from Matthew 25:36 express a way of life for prison chaplains. The following comments are from two PCA chaplains who serve in state prisons in Ohio. The first, Strother Gross, is at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in Chillocothe.

He writes: “Prison chaplains work at the extremes of human existence, ministering to souls vacillating between hope and despair. We minister in a spiritual wasteland where merely surviving is a constant, haunting reality. If there was ever a place where the promises of God’s grace and unconditional love are needed, it is here.

“On the other hand, I have been privileged to witness the awakening of souls who have lived all their lives in a spiritual stupor. What a joy to see forgiveness, acceptance, and love bring a genuine change — to see a deep hunger and thirst for right living and thinking as these men become disciples of Christ! These are the blessings that encourage and keep chaplains going within the austere and dehumanizing environment of prison life. Pray for us!”

Jon Maas is at Mansfield Correctional Institution in Mansfield. He writes: “I serve in a close security prison (one step below maximum security and one step above medium security) with about 2,200 male inmates, including some 200 on Death Row. I am responsible for ensuring the religious freedoms of these inmates and regulating the practice of their faith.

“Participation in group worship or studies is viewed as a privilege, not a right; therefore, if an inmate is violent or disruptive he may lose his permission to attend group activities until he proves he can control himself.

“Obviously, inmates are free to choose any faith, and we are required to bring in volunteers or contract chaplains representing a wide variety of faith groups, including such unusual organizations as Wiccans. Although we supervise these volunteers and their meetings, we do not participate in any group activities inconsistent with the Christian faith.

“Inmates and staff are not allowed to proselytize, but witnessing is fully permitted. According to the law, proselytizing is seen as forcing religious views upon another; witnessing is considered sharing opinions and beliefs. As a result, I am allowed to fully preach the Gospel whenever I lead a service.”




Jon Maas, a full-time PCA prison chaplain, also serves as a reserve US Army chaplain. Chaplain (CPT) Stevan Horning, a pastor of Westminster PCA in Cleveland, OH, serves as a US Army reserve chaplain in the same unit as Jon. Here they are pictured with their chaplain assistants.


Strother Gross

 

Independence Day

We encourage churches to recognize our ministers to the military on the Sunday preceding Independence Day by inviting a PCA chaplain to participate in a worship service. To that end, ask MNA Chaplain Ministries to put you in touch with a chaplain in your vicinity.
Contact Rebekah Lawing: 270-234-1464 or mnaguardian@pcanet.org

ButtonBacktoTop.jpg (3233 bytes)

The Vital Church
Kingdom Intercessor Training:


As the interest in Kingdom Intercessor Training (KIT) increases among PCA churches, so does the need for qualified leaders who can take the program into churches and teach KIT strategies. To that end, KIT Leadership Training was conducted for PCA pastors last April at Covenant Presbyterian in Fayetteville, GA.



Covenant Presbyterian, Fayetteville, GA

The central focus of KIT is to share principles for developing a kingdom-focused prayer life as a means of strengthening the church. The program was conceived by Archie Parrish, coordinator of MNA Church Vitality.


Embers to a Flame Conference

  • September 17 – 20, 2002

  • Village Seven Presbyterian, Colorado Springs, CO

  • For info, www.emberstoaflame.org
     or 205-776-5399

Convocation on Reformation & Revival

  • October 15 – 17, 2002

  • Trinity Presbyterian, Jackson, MS

  • Theme: “Reforming Our Roles: Rediscovering the Paradigms and Principles of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood”

  • Keynote Speakers: Ray Ortland, Jr. senior pastor, First Presbyterian, Augusta, GA; Bruce Ware, professor, Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, KY

  • Teaching and ruling elders, and their wives are invited

  • For info, www.trinitypca.com or 601-362-8244

ButtonBacktoTop.jpg (3233 bytes)


Multiply is published by
Mission to North America
1700 North Brown Road, Suite 101
Lawrenceville, GA  30043
Phone: 678-825-1200
Fax: 678-825-1201
E-mail: mna@pcanet.org

Address comments to Fred Marsh, Managing Editor / Photographer. Assistant Editor:   Jennifer Musselman.  Design: Studio Supplee. Copy Editor/Writer: Joan Quillen. Material in Multiply may be reproduced with permission.